willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs


Treasures in a Trunk

I recently posted about a collection of books that I just purchased from an estate sale. We have unloaded the massive amount of books but much to my chagrin, there is no time right now to do the books justice. By that I mean that these books are meant to be perused curled up in a comfy chair, piles upon piles stacked to my side, as I go through them cover to cover to find all the treasures tucked in between their pages. No, I am not speaking of dollar bills but of mementos of the past, funeral cards, pressed flowers, newspaper clippings, letters, photos and the likes. These items give you a peek into the life of the books’ owner. They obviously had enough meaning to be placed amongst the pages of the book to be saved for future perusal. Perhaps this winter there will be time to engage in such a pleasurable task when the pace is a little slower and I just might be able to loose myself for an afternoon or two.

For right now, sorting through the trunks that I acquired at the same sale will have to suffice! I can pick one out as time allows, sort through its contents gingerly, for some have been in an attic for close to a hundred years and then carefully clean the trunks and their contents. This afternoon, after working in the barn where I had been jump starting the Christmas season, I grabbed a trunk and began that process.    The trunk that I chose today was one that upon initially opening, I saw that it contained some Halloween goodies. The mice left me some perfectly intact decorations that really look quite frightening  but very much like the reproduction ones I have seen of today.
 The majority of the trunk was filled with several children’s costumes. Most of the costumes need some TLC but they are nothing like the nylon ones of todays packaged numbers from the Halloween store. Constructed like they were made to be worn everyday, they obviously had been tucked away to be saved for another season. 
Tucked underneath the costumes with all of the contents spilled about was a board game copyrighted in 1898.    .
The players pieces are made out of wood and the die are the tiniest little things I have ever seen. There was the card game PIT which my kids still play today and a cardboard box entitled PLAY CLOTHES. Folded up inside was an army outfit or police officer costume that looked like it had never been worn.
The most fascinating bundle in the whole trunk though, was a paper wrapped parcel of torn out magazine pages from all the fashionable publications from the time period of the dated pages…1921.  Ladies Home Journal, Harper’s Bazaar and of course Vogue. I am not aware of who the owner of this trunk is but I sure know much about her from the tear sheets she left in a trunk over the course of a year in 1921. I know that she must have been quite fashionable for there are pages of what look to be the latest fashions. I know that she loved photos and artistic renderings of all aspects of family life. She saved many a short story and poem that were printed upon the pages of the aforementioned magazines. She clipped advertisements on beauty products and home care items. She had many a selection on decor of the day and design of a “good home” as one article was entitled. 

She definitely was drawn to photos of women in peaceful and tranquil settings.
Children were also a common thread as well as Norman Rockwell scenes and Vogue illustrations.
ALL of it could have been applicable today…the themes of a woman’s life…past and present…bound inextricably together through the years. Yes, the gentility and social graces that were apparent in these pages are mostly absent from today’s publications which is a sad commentary but the subject matter is much the same. (Except for the one article on how the Chicago Public school system had just installed water closets in all schools so that the children could wash their hands at school and thus increase the children’s learning.)  I certainly got lost in this activity and could have read these pages of the past for hours but pick ups and Target would not wait. In my fairly quick inventory, I was struck with the similarity of how my files look much like this mystery woman’s “file” of images. I often get flack for my files and my torn out magazine pages. Yes, I am aware of a thing called Pin-terest that is all the rage these days and I even have an account but use it way to infrequently. I am such a kinesthetic visual that I cannot “tear” myself away from my old habits. Maybe someone will find my files almost one hundred years from now and wonder at the life that I lived… as I have today. 
Inspiration comes in many forms~

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  1. Pattye says:

    What wonderful treasures Meg! If you want company, I’d love to explore the old books with you.