H is for Heirlooms



Ethel Grant’s house-dresses; “Panda Bear!”

Stories are the roots of our history. Or to use another metaphor, the stories of our ancestors are the meat on the bones of the genealogical skeleton. It is the stories that bring our family to life and help us to understand them, know them, and yes, come to love them, even if we have never met them. Often we can weave stories around heirlooms. Look around your home, or your parents’/grandparents’ homes. Do they have family objects that tell a story? Ask questions, write the stories, pass them on!

Family Vignettes

The picture, above, contains two heirlooms: one from my grandmother and one from me!

The hoop is a quilt square my grandmother, Ethel Gilchrest Grant, made of her house dresses. (I put the square in the hoop–she never did get beyond making only 2 quilt squares). Ethel would put on a house dress every morning and go through her routine of cooking, cleaning and caring for the needs of her husband and 3 boys. When it was nearing time for her husband, Earl, to arrive home each evening, Ethel would change out of her house dress and put on a clean dress to be “presentable” to her husband. Her closet was full of these almost interchangeable dresses in pretty pastel prints.

The little Koala bear in front of the hoop is a souvenir I chose when I was about 10 years old. He was a favorite of mine and I often took him on sleepovers at my friend Tammy’s house. One day Tammy took my Koala and starting up in a sing-song voice: “Panda Bear! You have dirty eyes…you have dirty hands…you have a dirty nose…Panda Bear! YOU are DIRTY!!!” I kept trying to grab him away from her and insisting, “He’s NOT a Panda Bear! He’s a Koala Bear!” Her teasing upset me at the time, but now it is a family legend of this little bear, that has lost most of his fur (and probably is pretty dirty by now!) but still remains a favorite. He’s a reminder of the incredibly awesome childhood I had and the marvelous adventures I experienced with my dear friend, and “frousin” Tammy.

Part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge

About Gail

Genealogist, librarian, writer, traveler, Mormon
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge, Family, Favorites, Genealogy & Family History, Good Old Days and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to H is for Heirlooms

  1. Sammy D. says:

    Your metaphor is exceptionally rich! Such sweet memories – I remember my Grandma always in one of those (as you say) interchangeable housedresses. She was a widow and very poor, so there was no changing to nicer evening dress. I loved her so much.

    That childhood teasing can be gut-wrenching at the time, and I’m glad you were able to turn it into a positive family remembrance because memories of our beloved stuffed animals should definitely be good ones!

    I never tire of reading these recountings of family lore because they validate my own memories of who we were so long ago.

    • gapark says:

      Sounds like you have some wonderful memories as well. My reading of late tends towards the dysfunctional memoir, and it always amazes me that my growing up years were so idyllic in comparison.

      • Sammy D. says:

        No kidding! I always thought my family was kind of dysfunctional until I met some people who came from very screwed up backgrounds. Makes us look like the Cleavers 🙂 I read a few of those memoirs like the Glass Castle (which was superb), but after a few, I needed to turn it off for my own mental health.

  2. acuriousgal says:

    What wonderful memories!!!

  3. wordstock16 says:

    The Dresden Plate square caught my attention. I have always wanted to do that pattern. I have lots of little memories tied into childhood items. It makes me happy to touch them and remember those times too as I was also blessed with a wonderful childhood. I think your Koala Bear is adorable. What a treasure.

  4. Wow, how times have changed, eh? On my days off I might clean the apartment while hubby is at his job, but when it’s time for him to come home, I’m still in the same, dirty clothes. LOL!

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

  5. Lynn Miclea says:

    That hoop with the fabric from her house dresses is spectacular and beautiful! What a great memory! And the cute little koala bears is so sweet. Great memories – thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Aditi says:

    I totally agree stories and heirlooms bind families and generations together. Lovely picture of both the mementos. I love your koala bear 🙂

  7. Casi Nerina says:

    I love the story behind the hoop.

    My family does a lot of this too, but we go beyond our own family histories to our ancestors. We deal with Norwegian, Danish, and German history a lot in this household.

    • gapark says:

      Well that’s the goal if you can find stories for ancestors! Sometimes you have to infer stories from the time and place and meager clues. Gotta start somewhere and the trail back starts with ourselves.

  8. Maria Dunn says:

    Great A to Z posts so far, A through H. Those precious heirlooms that remind us of precious people and memories hold on to something so much deeper than just their physical properties. Enjoy the challenge. Maria from <"http://delightdirectedliving.blogspot.com/&quot;

  9. thelmaz says:

    Visiting fellow A to Zers. What a lovely post. I’ve written little snippets about heirlooms so my children will know the stories behind them.
    Hope you’ll visit back. http://www.widowsphere.blogspot.com My theme this year is quirky quotes.

  10. We have several family quilts (currently in the custody of my mother), but the one I cherish most (and use often) was made by my great grandmother out of some of the most hideous fabric to come out of the early 1960s. And that’s why I love it!

  11. Leslie says:

    Great post! This reminds me I need to talk to my grandma about the items she’s passed down to me before she passes away.

  12. sizzlesue15 says:

    I’m an Aussie so yes I love Koalas. People call them bears but technically they aren’t. Heirlooms are very important to me, especially as my Mum died over 30 years ago. I have some special memories such as the letter my grandmother wrote to my mum when she was in hospital giving birth to my brother. I also have a small jewel box she gave me the day she went to hospital and never came home. Treasured memories.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    • Gail says:

      So cool. We just spent 3 weeks in Australia— our first visit and I got to hold a koala— the highlight of the trip for me. I’ve decided to cut the quilt squares down into 12 mini hoop for Christmas ornaments for all the grandkids.

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