Old things fascinate me. Old people, too, for that matter. We have such charm and such stories to tell. But then, the same could be said for old things.
I’ve always loved antiques. Call them vintage, call them collectibles, but things that have age have character. They have qualities that call to me, and I tend to heed things that call to me.
Fortunately, I have a number of precious things that have been passed to me from my grandparents, parents, my husband’s parents, and his grandparents. Matt had a great-aunt, Aunt Amanda, who died a widow and her only daughter had passed away at age 16. So her belongings were left with her brother, who was my husband’s grandfather. Eventually, they made their way to him, and we (with his sister) began a years-long quest to sort and organize suitcases and boxes filled with correspondence, invoices, deeds, church bulletins, photos, and other memorabilia.
One card that had been sent to her had obviously been opened and read, then carefully preserved in the envelope. There were hundreds such cards, and hundreds more postcards. But this card was unique in that it contained a perfectly folded, pristine, pale lavender handkerchief, with a slightly darker lavender floral embellishment. It hadn’t been out of that envelope since she received it, sometime in the 1930s or ’40s. That card with the handkerchief was an inspiration.
It gave me the idea to take that handkerchief, plus the several that had belonged to my mom, and the dozen or so that had been Matt’s mother’s, and display them. The quest for the perfect display method came to an end when I discovered an old wooden ladder — or part of an old wooden ladder — in our barn. Now that ladder, cleaned up and stained, and proudly displaying the prettiest of the vintage hankies, is a work of wall art in our guest room. The hankies are different from one another and are often trimmed in lace, embroidered, embellished, or tatted. Some are white, others are pastel or floral. Most are incredibly soft. And each has its own story to tell.
I have pocketbook tissue in my purse these days. I haven’t used a handkerchief since I was a little girl. But looking at my display reminds me of a different time. Not necessarily better, but different, and filled with the sights and sounds and smells of my mom, and my childhood.
The other thing this one old card made me ponder was how we’ve gotten away from sending postcards. Greeting cards are still popular, I know, but it’s very unusual to find postcards for holiday greetings like Christmas and Easter, let alone Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving. Yet less than a century ago, these were used all the time.
I love the old postcards. One of the treasures we have from Aunt Mandy is several dozen unused posted cards, including one that says, “Happy new year, 1909.” It just makes my heart soar. Yep, I do love old things.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.