Stuff as a Way of Life

Dear Children:

Here is another chapter in the saga of stuff gone wrong.

Maybe I can paint a picture of our life as newlyweds.  Broad brush: young; husband in hiatus from college seeking work; wife in college on scholarship; many family objections due to age, religion and general immaturity.  We lived in an upstairs-furnished apartment in the heart of town.  Our home decor was early wedding present sans intelligent registry.  Our cupboards were replete with unmatched sheets, towels and candy dishes.

As we continued from apartment to duplex to rented house in a real neighborhood, I began to bemoan the lack of generational continuity in my “house beautiful”.  Hand-me-down furniture didn’t really count.  Everywhere around me were households with great-grandmother’s table, Aunt Myrtle’s tea set in the hutch, and sterling silver forks laid out with the heirloom dessert plates.  I, on the other hand, served on those unique clear glass dessert sets which included a cup held in place by a small indentation.

But I was the fifth child of parents who had packed us into a 39 Chevrolet and moved from the mid-west.  There wasn’t a shipment of furniture that followed.  The spirit of family tradition did not travel with us.  The mountains and money divided us  from our past.  It was a new country, a new life, and new stuff for us.

I loved “old”.  I didn’t have a great concept of real antiques, but I treasured the concept of tradition.  On a trip back to Indiana as a child, I had inhaled the aura of my grandmother’s house and it soothed my soul. And so I began the life of re-creating history.  I observed, I envied, and I acquired.  Stuff!  With a great eye and a small budget I created a home reminiscent of that mid-western home.  Out with the new, in with the old, on to the garage sales.

Here’s the synopsis:  From the person who envied those having an attic full of antique furniture I have become the person with a barn filled with furniture, dishes and books.   Through the years I have become the keeper of artifacts of family history.  I have my grandmother’s teapot.  I have my mother’s china.  I have the glass doorknob from the screen door of my father’s childhood home.

Now what?


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