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.

Shopping

Charmed, I’m sure! Recently Younger Daughter and I explored the latest addition to retail whimsy in Birmingham, Alabama — a boutique called Charm, on Second Avenue North across from Urban Standard coffee shop. I mean, where else are you going to find a glittery and sequined deer’s head but in downtown Birmingham??? This little gem of a shop specializes in vintage and locally handmade jewelry, scarves and handbags — but with attitude. It’s like rummaging through your crazy aunt’s closet while she’s out dancing on tables because the fleet has come in. Or something. Owner Chatham Hellmers had the late and great Jinx boutique in Birmingham’s Five Points that was always a must-stop destination for quirky jewelry and retro-hip style. Charm is a grownup upscale version perfect for browsing, especially if you’re looking for gifts. I was immediately delighted and impressed with Hellmers’ taste when I spied an “old” jewelry box made in the shape of a rolltop office desk — the same jewelry box I had growing up. The drawers and compartments are lined with a red velvet-type fabric, and I kept them lovingly stocked with silver turquoise rings and copper bracelets to show I was In Tune with Nature and One with the Universe and wide plastic cuffs to show I read Vogue. Hey — don’t judge! It was the 1970s, remember, and I was young(er). Anyway, find out more about Charm at http://www.charmonsecond.com/