Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Book of Roses and Grandmothers' Gardens

Did your grandmother garden? Mine did. She had a victory garden during the war and later she grew mostly flowers and few herbs but also tomatoes and radishes. Don't ask me how that particular combo came to be. By the time I knew her my grandmother lived in an apartment upstairs from a couple that also had a garden out back and they grew just about everything, including roses.If my sister and I were behaving ourselves out in the yard we would get a tasting tour of the garden which was especially fun when the strawberries were ripe. What I remember most though was the pride that accompanied growing the roses.
Years later my mother would attempt to grow roses but she never had the success my grandmother's landlady had. Mrs. Richardson had a super green thumb because her roses were spectacular. They came in all sizes and colors and were everywhere in her tiny yard. I don't believe she used pesticides because you would often find her hand picking Japanese beetles and other bugs from the leaves.
I found this book on one of my meandering travels the other day and was knocked over by the gorgeous pictures. It was published in 1936 and is packed with color photos on almost every page! It is also in fantastic condition inside though the outside shows a little wear and damage and I was leery at first.
When I bought the book I thought I might take it apart and sell the prints but I just can't. The binding is pretty tight though the front page is trying to escape from the cover....this is an awesome book for someone who really loves roses. If Mrs. Richardson was still around I would give it to her for Mother's Day....

I have listed the book in my shop here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Sweet Lady and her Violets

My grandmother and mother continually told stories and some of the stories were told so often they became family legends. This little vase is one of my favorite pieces that used to belong to my mother. She got it when she was 12 years old and had broken her leg in a toboggan accident. She was bedridden for several weeks and had many visitors including a young man who brought her this little lady filled with violets.

Every spring my mother pulled it out of the vase cabinet and filled it with violets and retold the story. After she died I continued the tradition and since it is violet time in my back yard, here is the little lady once again, all decked out in her spring time regalia.

I actually use her more often than just in the spring since she feels like a little piece of my mom in the room. She has been known to hold lilies of the valley, small roses and holly among other things...

Do you have a special piece handed down from your family that is worth more for the story and the memories than the piece itself?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Raggedy Ann and Andy

Oh how Muna loved her dolls. She kept many of the dolls from her childhood, some of which I now have. She also made dolls and tons of doll clothes so when my mother and her sister were little girls they had quite the collection of well dressed girls. My mother had many stories of fancy tea parties with her dolls and when I was a little girl she and my grandmother would set them up for me and my dolls, too.
I think my grandmother's favorite dolls were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. She owned many of the old story books which were and still are among my favorite children's stories. They were so much fun and so imaginative that I spent hours arranging my own dolls and toys so they could join Ann and Andy on their nightly adventures. I tried desperately to stay awake to catch them all coming to life like they did each night in the stories but I never quite made it.

Over the years Muna made many little Raggedy Ann's and Andy's and I still have the ones she made for my daughters. This one dates back quite a bit and if memory serves correctly it was actually made by my great grandmother. I say this because it doesn't have the little heart that my grandmother always carefully embroidered on their chests. My great grandmother didn't always put the hearts in on hers.

In any case, these will remain in my own collection but I thought you might like to see them. Do you have any toys or dolls that were special from your grandparents?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

For the Dogs....

For as long as I know everyone in my family has had dogs, at least on my grandmother's side of the family. My grandmother often talked about her own dog growing up, a happy little mutt named Barney. I believe there is even a picture of him somewhere but I can't put my finger on it right now.

What I do have are these pictures of the dog they had when my mom was a little girl. That's my grandmother holding the puppy and my mother is the little girl. The handsome guy in black is Mike himself, dog of fame and  legend, at least in my family. He is the one and same pup being held by Muna. He was supposedly half Shetland sheepdog and who knows what else.

The man below with the tiny pup on his shoulder is my grandfather, Jack. There's a whole book that could probably be written about him but for today let's just say he loved his little dog, Mike. After Mike's death (of old age) my grandfather was so broken up he couldn't go to work for a few days and he would never have another dog. He said it was just too darn hard to lose one....he wouldn't go through that again. And he never did. My grandmother never had another dog, either but doted on all the ones my family had.

When I found this awesome book I couldn't help but think of all the dogs in my family and especially my grandmother's. She had lots of these little books all about birds, flowers, insects, etc. The dog book was not hers but one I picked up along the way....It is illustrated by Ole Larsen, a well known and well loved dog artist and I have other pieces and another book by him that I am keeping.

You can find this book here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Ultimate Scrap Book Queen

My grandmother saved everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. She kept photos, cards, menus, playbills, tickets, matchbook covers, napkins from restaurants, everything. She had boxes of scrapbooks and journals. Unfortunately her journals were terribly dull, just noting the weather and things like that, nothing personal or historical....
She kept history alive in other ways, though. Her scrap books document every card event from the time of her own marriage through the raising of her children. She kept things later as well but most didn't make it into formal scrapbooks. Unfortunately she didn't use good materials and many of the items she saved are in terrible condition, have water marks or even mold on them so we have had to throw most of them away. Some never made it into the basement, however, so were spared the damp and the mold. These cards are some of those.

Most of these cards actually date to my own birth in the mid 1950s. They are signed and used and most are showing some age but in a way that makes them even more precious, don't you think?

I am hoping someone will use these to celebrate their own mom and or baby or that of a friend, sister, cousin, aunt, whoever. You can find these in my Etsy shop here. What would you use these for?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Margaret Smith Carr

This was my grandmother, born Margaret Smith but known throughout her childhood as Margaret Carr. She was born in Pittsburgh PA in 1906 to Margaret and Thomas Smith. Her great grandmother came over from Ireland during the famine of 1849-50 and her family was centered in the mining town of McKeesport PA. Her little brother died of pneumonia when she was very young and after his death her father left, never to be heard from again. Her mother went to work as a cleaning woman in a hospital in Pittsburgh and her sister, Mary Carr and her husband raised young Margaret as their own. 

These pictures are from her own album and show a bit of her life as a young woman. The top picture shows her with her new "bob" for her graduation from the 8th grade, her last year of formal schooling. She didn't travel much but did get to NYC as seen in the second shot. The third picture shows her (Peg) with one of her best male friends and some of her "flapper" friends.

If you are of a certain age, were any of your relatives flappers?

Monday, April 19, 2010


Welcome to my new blog. For many years I have been the caretaker of the old and wonderful things left behind by various family members. Because I love all these old things I have even added to the collections over the years and now it is either them or me that gets to stay in my tiny home and so I'm letting a lot of things go...

It is my hope to share some of the wonderful stories my family told over the years and I hope you will share some of yours, too.

I recently unearthed this wonderful old album....

I thought it would be full of old family photos so imagine my surprise when I found all these old photographs of 1940s movie stars with autographs!

My mother and her sister collected these by writing directly to the movie studios and many of the photos have notes on the back. How cool is that? The album was in pretty tough shape and I removed the photos to clean them up and put them in separate envelopes. I will write a little more about some of them over the next few days.

Did anyone in your family collect old movie star photos?