Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Time Travel - Favorite Things

Although you can get these items from flea market and yard sale adventures from time to time, this is not where I got my two Victorian couple figurines. When I see these sitting in my built in bookcase in my library, I feel that I'm traveling back in time.  It's a bittersweet story.

I came from a large farm family of seven children.  We were not even what you would consider middle class income folks back then - but it was a rural area full of farm families and we didn't know we were poor.  We thought we were so much better off than those families from the city who had to live in houses fifteen feet from their neighbors.  There was certainly no envy - we would have never traded places even though their father's worked in better paying jobs than the average farmer.  In our minds, we were wealthy - we had just as much as the person on the next farm (which wasn't much at all).

As the youngest child, I ended up being the last one left at home when my last sister married and moved out when I was thirteen.  It was the year of 1961.   She had bought the bedroom suit that was in the room we shared when she started working upon graduating from high school.  And of course, she took it with her when she moved.  By this time, our widower grandfather was living with us and had been given the bedroom suit that my sister and I had once used.  I'll never forget how bare my little bedroom looked when mom and dad moved a small cot in there for me to sleep on until they could find some second-hand bedroom furniture.  It would be soon, they assured me, but I can't really remember being bothered by the fact that I was sleeping on a cot.  And finding a place for my clothes was not a problem since the few things I had (one dress for every day of the week) fit fine in my closet.

After a couple of months went by, my brother's wife came down one Saturday morning with paintbrush in hand and furniture and boxes in the back of her father's truck.  They had no children to spend their money on and she was always doing little things for me.  She sent me off to play outdoors and I could not come back in until she had things ready and in place.  I don't how she did it - she was a petite young woman and I didn't think she even knew how to use a paint brush, let alone a hammer, but when I came back in that night, my room was painted the most beautiful shade of green.  She had built cornices for the windows and painted those.  With Dad's help she had hauled in the furniture which was a second-hand, but beautiful dresser, chest, vanity and bed.  There was a new bedspread with pink and green flowers, new curtains, and knick knacks to sit around on my new furniture.  It looked like the room of a princess - a room that in my wildest dreams I would have never expected to have.

A year later, my brother left his beautiful, childless wife and in her grief and pain, she cut off all ties to our family.  My grief was strong too because I loved her like a sister.  Many, many years later, we reconnected and were good friends again but it took me a long time to forgive my brother for taking Johnnie out of our lives.

The two Victorian couple figurines below and a few photos are all I have left of my sweet sister-in-law Johnnie.  And the memories of what a dear, sweet person she was to orchestrate the dramatic change of my bedroom.   I wrote her a letter later in her life to tell her what that one act of kindness meant to me.  I think that's where my love of decorating started...and my love for Johnnie has never ended.

The man on the right is missing an arm, but I always pretended he was a gallant soldier and had lost it in a battle.  These are marked "Made in Occupied Japan" on the bottom.
Do you have little pieces of your childhood you would never part with?  I would love to hear about them.

Linking to Very Merry Vintage Style  Suzanne Link BadgeVintage Thingy Thursday
 Thursday Favorite Things

Knick of Time


  1. What a great story, so sad, so happy, so loving. Thanks for posting it!

  2. What sweet memories you have of Johnnie, she touched your life deeply. I have so many things that belonged to my grandmother and my aunt. I would never part with any of them and I hope my boys will appreciate them someday. Thanks for sharing your story. Found you on VTT.

  3. Thanks for sharing such an important time in your life. It is hard to understand the "why" of life. One thing we will always have are our memories.

  4. What a wonderful story. I am so glad you reconnected with her. What an impact things we do have on others. Thakns for sharing. I love the china figurines. They are even more special with the story attached.

  5. Such a sweet post and tribute to your sister-in-law. Your figurines are so charming and made even more so with your memories.

    Yes, I have some things from my childhood that I could not ever part with. My father passed away last year (my mother having passed away in 1996) and I found my mother's cookie jar at the house (always filled with cookies in my early years) and a china donkey figurine that held my mother's buttons, which I loved playing with as a child. They evoke memories of childhood, mother and home.

    Happy VTT!

  6. Isn't it amazing the memories that items can hold for us? I'm linking over from Vintage Thingie Thursday.

  7. i sobbed a little reading your post :) its a great story about using one's creativity to make someone happy... and these things can never EVER be forgotten :) i am touched by your story :)

  8. I loved this post. Yes,I do But, I have it as a possible blog post, giggle. so my secret for now. giggle Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Bloghop xo

  9. Glenda,
    I stopped by because I was attracted to the picture of the beautiful Victorian looking figurines and was so pleasantly surprised to read such a touching and wonderful story about one act of kindness and compassion that ended up changing a little girl's life forever. What a beautiful story that you have shared with us.
    Figurines from our childhood????? That got me thinking. When I was about 9-10 years old, my mother's cousins had come to visit from Phila. which was only about 2 hours away. They had a daughter named Mildred who was maybe about 17 years old at the time. She did ceramics and had made Bat Man and Robin banks for me as gifts. This was in the time where the original Bat Man was on prime time TV. I was thrilled!! About 5 years later, in her early 20's, Mildred died of a brain tumor. We went to Phila. to her funeral. I always kept those banks in my bedroom and when I had my 2 sons, those banks were passed on to them. They are now put away up in the Attic with my sons other toys. Your post brought back those memories of the banks and of sweet Mildred. I had forgotten about this single act of kindness that she bestowed upon me and how those banks were treasured from one generation to the next. Thanks so much for making me remember.....

    Many Hugs,


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