Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heirlooms, Keepsakes and Memories

I just watched a precious video interview of my friend's 90 year old mother on YouTube.  That is a great idea.  I sure wish I had thought of doing that for my mother.  The video is a real keepsake.  Photographs are not the only way of remembering people and times.  My father passed away when I was 10 months old.  I have no recollection of him, although my sister, who was 5 years older than I, remembered him well.  Mama kept his books and a barrel that she covered and used for an end table full of items that belonged to him.  He was a mechanical engineer and there were a lot of engineering books.  The thing that I remember best is that he made a 78 rpm record of him talking.  Anyone younger than me will probably not remember the old 78 rpm records.  I don't remember what he said on the record but I do remember how comforting it was to hear his voice.

Sometimes memories come from items other than photos and recordings.  I remember my Aunt Philo had embroidered "The Last Supper" and it hung in my grandmother's dining room.  Just the thought of that embroidery brings back so many fond memories of my childhood in Louisiana.

It was wonderful having my mother stay with us the last year of her life.  I had so many pieces of memories from my early childhood in Lafayette that she was able to explain and complete the stories.  Over the years I had taken pieces of memories and put them together where they didn't belong and it was good that Mama could help sort them all out.  And there were so many funny memories.  Of course, Mama had a load of stories of her own.  She certainly was a wonderful story teller.

As a child, I was the little girl who loved frills and lace.  My favorite game was playing "Madame", otherwise known as "dress up".  The ladies in Lafayette would send their discarded dresses and clothing to Mama to put in my Madame barrel and I would dress up in all of those dresses.  I was also one of the original latchkey kids.  I would stay home after school and wait until Mama and Daddy would get home from work.  Frequently, I would play Madame while waiting.  One day, I guess I was about 7 years old, I found someone's brassiere in the Madame barrel.  You know I put that huge brassiere on and stuffed it full of other clothes from the barrel, put on some huge high heel shoes that would flip flop as I walked, a frilly dress that dragged behind me, and someone's old wide brimmed hat and decided that I was pretty enough to go to town.  So, all gussied up, I walked out of the house and was walking down the street.  Someone saw me and called Mama at work and told her that her daughter had breasts as wide as she was tall and described me walking.  Mama had to come take me home.  I don't remember getting in touble for doing that.  I think it was just such a hillarious sight that she couldn't scold me for it.  I do remember that brassieres were no longer allowed in the Madame barrel.

This is a picture of me playing Madame at my Grandmother Theaux's home in Lafayette.  How adorable is that?

All of this nostalgia is probably why I chose this year's star embroidery item to be the pillow case.  We had feather pillows when I was growing up.  I especially remember the hard ends of the feathers sticking through the ticking and as I slept, I would pull out feathers in my sleep.  In the morning, my bed was usually covered in feathers.  Mama would gather the feathers in the morning.  As the ticking would wear out, Mama would buy yards and yards of ticking, make the sacks, and then we would spend the afternoon pouring the feathers from the old pillow to the new pillow.  We had feathers everywhere.  Once the pillow was full of feathers, Mama would sew the end shut and put on a fresh pillow case.  Oh my goodness, it felt so good to lay your head on a new feather pillow with a fresh pillow case. 

The beautiful pillow cases of years gone by with the cross stitching and embroidery of all sorts on them were the pillow cases that I laid my head on as a child.  For those of you in my age bracket, do you remember the embroidery design of the antebellum lady with the umbrella?  For that matter, do you remember the dish towels with the days of the week and each day had a special chore, i.e., laundry, cooking, etc.?  I even had panties with the days of the week on them -- no chores on those.  I have found many of these designs for my embroidery machine.  I am looking forward to embroidering those designs and others onto pillow cases this year. 

These are photos of a pair of pillow cases that I have recently done for a friend's birthday present.  I love goldfish.  They are so beautiful.  However, I've never been able to keep them alive at my house.  Usually we end up with the burial at sea in the bathroom.

C'est toute mon amis

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