Telling and Selling Memories

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By Carolyn Myers

Growing up, my favorite place was my Grommy’s (and Poppy’s) house. After a quick greeting, I would immediately go exploring for hours. Like all of the other great museums, it could take a lifetime to see everything on display. Every wall, surface, closet and drawer held (too many?) items of interest, and I loved it all.

And Grommy loved me for it.

After hours of hunting, I would show her my finds. Maybe an old Pyrex bowl, or a flour-sack apron, or a collection of postcards from the early 20th century. or her great-grandmother’s hand mirror and hairbrush or a quilt made before the Civil War, or … or… It didn’t matter what I found or the price listed on the item in her beautiful handwriting — she’d let me keep whatever I discovered. After I thanked her profusely, she would usually smile and say, “Most of this will be yours someday anyway; might as well take it now.” No one else in the family shared my love and fascination with her treasures, and she knew I would appreciate them like she did.

So, when Grommy died on Feb. 29, 2020, we thought we knew exactly how to proceed: Each family member would pick out favorite items and then an estate sale would take care of the rest. Mom and I would plan weekend trips to fill a couple boxes each of mementos — we estimated we could have the clearing-up part done in two or three visits and then we’d set the sale for later this summer.

Easy peasy.

Also wrong.

We soon realized the enormity of this task and our reluctance to simply fill a few boxes and be done with it. Honoring Grommy, honoring our family history and the legacy of what she built and left us, was too heavy and too much to tackle in one summer.

In conversations with my mom about our options, we also realized that we weren’t ready to be done with this task. Granted, we couldn’t feasibly keep all of her treasures, but we couldn’t stand the thought of a stranger coming in to sell it all before we learned more about Grommy’s life’s work. We weren’t ready to let go of her treasures, her memory. We needed more time to honor her (and Poppy), what they built and what they left as their legacy.

So here we are. A year and half after Grommy left us, we are picking up the (thousands and thousands of) pieces. My mom and I, with the rest of the family’s blessing. have a plan. She and I are working our way through the rooms full of antiques and collectibles Grommy delighted in finding and displaying for decades. Our idea is to host events at the house where you can explore and find treasures for yourselves (details to come). Along with those events, we’ll share the stories we discover – stories about teapots & crystal, linens & china, books, prints, Hummels, Depression glass and more. This is our work: Understanding more of our family’s history, discovering relics of American history, paying tribute to the beautiful and overwhelming world of collectibles and antiques, all while grieving the loss of a complicated and wonderful woman. We are not professional curators or antique sellers (Mom is a professional writer, thank goodness!), but we are ready to get to work and excited to share our adventures with you all.

Check our Rooted in Memories Facebook page frequently for details.

Dishing …

After decades of fighting it, I somehow and suddenly have fallen in love with dishes. I blame friends who I’ll call — for no reason whatsoever because these random names just came to me — “Susan” and “Sherry.” Others, including my mother and grandmother, are un-indicted co-conspirators, but “Susan” and “Sherry” are the main perpetrators. (And now I’ll drop the quotation marks as long as you remember that “Susan” and “Sherry” are my very good friends who constantly lead me unwillingly astray into shopping adventures completely made-up names with no resemblance at all to any real persons.) I trace my initial dislike of dishes to visiting my grandparents every summer. My grandmother was a dish-obsessive of the highest order. She adored her Haviland china and delighted in her lead crystal. Many summer afternoons she and 61JVul8FYvS._SL1200_my mother would sit in my grandmother’s dining room, reverently lifting plates, bowls and vases out of the corner cabinets and talking about the beloved friends and family members who previously had owned the pieces — or the sales and auctions where they’d blown the grocery budget scored a bargain. I just wanted to go to the pool. Of course, my mother was an early adopter of dish love. How could she not be? Many of my childhood memories revolve around being dragged to accompanying her to estate sales where she spent HOURS poking through boxes. I always took a book. As I grew up, you’d think I’d come to appreciate my maternal lineage. But, no. After all, this was the 60s and the 70s and the times they were ‘a-changing. I was too timid to rebel by doing anything actually, you know, illegal. Or even against house rules. So my rebellion took the form of rejecting my mother’s preferences of collecting dishes, playing bridge and wearing slips. Boy, that sure showed her, huh??? As I married and had children, my grandmother and mother continued to hope I’d come to my senses, They tried to turn me with gifts of their duplicate finds and delicate treasures. But … nothing. And recently, as my friends and I have arrived at the empty-nest point where we pretty much can do whatever the heck we want to do whenever the heck we want to, I still resisted. I still tagged along to auctions and sales — with the promises of margaritas after — but I brought my tablet. But all of this came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago, when Susan and Sherry were visiting me in Corinth, Miss., and they spotted Waits’ Jewelry and Fine Gifts. Opened in 1865, this downtown-Corinth tradition was going out of business and offering major discounts on everything — jewelry, china, crystal, flatware, etc. Susan and Sherry soon had piles of potential purchases while I wandered around aimlessly — until I spied this dish set. My heart started pounding. I got goose bumps. It was love at first sight. I don’t know what it is about Lenox’s Chirp — the delicate flowers, the retro colors, the oh-so-cool bird — but in one instant my dish-defenses crumbled and I HAD TO HAVE IT. And now, unaccountably, I HAVE TO HAVE MORE. I’ve already scoured the Interwebs looking for Chirp bargains and scoped out area department stores. I cannot get enough of Chirp. I smile everytime I look it. I’m officially a lover of dishes. And I went back to wearing slips years ago. But I still refuse to learn how to play bridge. The rebellion lives!!!