I’ve dusted off my semi-regular “Tuesday Musings” post, as it has been a while since it appeared in this blog. I’m writing today about my dusty treasures and trinkets, discovered as I ravaged through the basement on my cleaning blitz earlier this Summer.
How do you define treasures and trinkets? They are those small keepsakes that you have held onto through the years, conflicted on whether to part with them, knowing you’ll feel guilty for simply tossing out an item that at one time held meaning, or gave you pleasure.
I hear the horror stories about people faced with the wicked forces of nature, such as wildfires or hurricanes, who must flee their homes without their most-treasured possessions. I don’t know how they do it … a lifetime of memories gone in a heartbeat.
This box in the basement filled with trinkets and treasures held no real sentimental value, but instead were keepsakes from other eras in my life.
Over the weekend I finished perusing the last of those items I had stuffed into a large box during my initial clean-up phase in the basement.
As many of you longtime followers of this blog know, my New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to restore order to my house this year. It was a worthwhile, but tiring endeavor, dealing with upstairs, then downstairs, the latter which was neglected and unloved for many years, and had become a catchall for items which made upstairs look messy, so they were relegated to the basement. That messiness in the basement was pushed over the edge on June 9th when an all-house insulation job and messy contractors left the basement in a shambles. I could bore you with before and after pictures, but suffice it to say, it was a nightmare.
But, I got myself a shop vac and wore out two broom heads from sweeping with a vengeance, so I no longer have to cringe and make apologies when I take the Flame Furnace tech downstairs for his semi-annual furnace and A/C checks.
That clean-up in the basement took the entire month of July, and I was frazzled by that job and did not want to spend another minute down there, but, I had gathered some items together in a box to give them a “once-over” before deciding whether to toss them or not.
So, I’ve finally made my way through that cardboard box that contained a mishmash of memories and disposed of them accordingly, saving only one item, just like a new year where you exclaim “out with the old, in with the new!” There was a little angst involved, in what mementoes to keep. Some gave me cause to pause, and others I said to myself “Linda … really??!!”
Well, many of those trinkets were related to trips taken through the years.
In the early 60s, my father had a job interview in California, so we made a family trip there and visited tourist spots geared for kids like Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and Marineland of the Pacific. I still had a pink folding comb with an emblem of Bubbles the Whale, the star of the show. I wonder why I kept it all these years … surely not for any sentimental value? If I want to remember that day at Marineland, I need only look at this photo of myself wrinkling my nose after feeding a smelly old fish to an exuberant seal.
I traveled to Germany with my father in 1969 and saved all the cardboard coasters featuring the various German beers from the many biergartens we visited in Germany and Bavaria. At each biergarten, a “sweating” mug of beer for adults, or non-alcoholic apfelwein (cider) for kids was plopped onto a colorful coaster when it arrived at your table. As a 13-year old, I thought that was pretty “neat” and brought home a stack of those coasters which were still rubber-banded together, yellowed at the edges and never used. This image from Pinterest shows you those coasters in their heyday.
In the Summer of 1974 I traveled to Spain with friends of our family. We went to a show featuring flamenco dancers and I bought a pair of castanets the next day in a marketplace in town. So, did I buy them because I was inspired by the folk dancers who clacked them noisily while performing their moves, or did I plan on doing some flamenco dancing when I returned from vacation? I also found a small black furry bull, which was no doubt a souvenir from the one and only bullfight I attended. I bought some Toledo jewelry as well. The ring was black with gold flowers but it was dressy and not too practical for everyday wear as a student, and working at the diner on the weekends.
Fast forward to 1981 when I took a week-long American Express land tour of Greece followed by a week-long cruise of the Greek islands, with stops in Cairo, Ephesus (Turkey) and Jerusalem. I simply had to buy a necklace with my name spelled out in hieroglyphics … like the Toledo jewelry, it didn’t fit in with my work wardrobe, and was a tad touristy-looking once I got back into the daily grind. Likewise, living in the moment, I just loved the music which you heard in every little Greek village, or every night while on the cruise ship. Most of the people in our tour group purchased 8-track tapes of that Bouzouki music, and when I returned home from the trip, for months I over-played that tape; it drove my parents crazy. I still had the tape, but no 8-track player. Most of the women bought traditional Greek garb, patterned cotton caftans and long dangling wire and beaded earrings to wear aboard the ship at night. I guess I thought I’d wear these items once I returned home, but nope – they have been folded up and tucked away for decades, only to be thrown away all these years later.
In 1983 I had a three-week excursion with Maupintour through four Scandinavian countries and Russia. In my mementoes, I found an envelope filled with Russian rubles because our tour guide said “take some of this colorful paper currency home to show your friends and family.” Plus, a mandatory purchase for everyone who visits Russia is a Matryoshka doll, which you probably know as “Russian nesting dolls” – yup, I had a set of them too.
Maupintour sponsored a photography contest where you could enter the photos you thought best typified your tour. You had to submit the 8 ½ X 11 matted photos with a description on the back and they were returned to you when the contest was over. I was interested in photography way back then and had the 35mm camera, special lenses, tripod … the whole nine yards. I even took photography classes at a local camera shop. So, after lugging all that heavy camera equipment around for three weeks, I was excited to enter a few of my favorite photos from the trip for the chance at a prize and to see the picture(s) used in future travel brochures.
This was a land tour of Norway, Denmark and Sweden and Finland, then we took a short Baltic Sea cruise to cross from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. We later travelled by plane from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
As to the photo contest, I was just ecstatic when my photo of an ordinary dairy cow in a Swedish pasture, which I entitled “Tranquility” won first prize! Well, holy cow! That was a first for me.
I also won an honorable mention, even though the photo of me was taken by a fellow passenger, but it was recognized as representative of our tour.
This picture was aboard the cruise ship that crossed the Baltic sea from Finland to Russia.
There were other doodads and souvenirs of trips long ago, among them a straw handmade wallet from St. Thomas and a leather coin purse from a bazaar in Colombia, South America. I should have kept my money I paid for those items, because no money was ever placed into them when I returned home.
Digging further into that box of treasures and trinkets was another photo of some significance. In 2010, I submitted this picture to “The News-Herald” of a Red Admiral butterfly alighting on one of the cone flowers in my backyard garden. Our local paper used to have a weekly feature that spotlighted nature photos taken by local amateur photographers. I scanned it in as best I could, but I have clung onto that newspaper feature page as well.
There was a paper trail of tickets and programs from concerts and events attended through the years, the most-interesting event being the King Tut exhibit, “The Treasures of Tutankhamen” at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
We were visiting my grandmother for her birthday that weekend and my aunt got the advance tickets and went with me … you might recall that back in 1979, you had to physically go buy the tickets in advance for any big show – how different it is now with online sales.
I found the spiral notebook I created when I redid the landscaping from scratch in 1985. Each page had a hangtag from that tree, flowering shrub or perennial, plus notes on its care which I received from Johnny’s Nursery. Most of those trees, shrubs and flowers are now gone, as is Johnny’s Nursery.
I discovered a yellowed, folded-up complete Section A of “The Detroit News” commemorating man’s first steps on the moon on July 20, 1969. I recall my mom read the story, then handed it to me saying “read this and then put it in a safe place as it might be worth something one day.” So, what does a 13-year old know about saving such important things, except to put them in a box out of sight, and out of mind for all these years. I now have put that newspaper story into the top drawer of my old cherry wood desk that was relegated to the basement after my status as “student” was officially over. There’s plenty of room in that old desk now that I cleared out at least three pocket dictionaries, a thesaurus, and a very large Merriam-Webster dictionary, no doubt from my college days. Who looks things up in the dictionary anymore? You check at dictionary.com in case you’re not sure after spell-check gives it a whirl. I remember my parents subscribed to “National Geographic Magazine” for decades, and when they ran out of places to put the old issues, decided to donate them to the local library who refused them since no one every requested that magazine to read or even for term papers. (Remember term papers before Google?)
I guess I am a “saver” and not a “thrower” … my mom did not hoard memories to become dust catchers or to take up space in the house. Come to think of it, I never saw my first tooth, a lock of hair or bronzed baby shoes around the house. And I was an only child! Hmm.
Rummaging through those treasures and trinkets was a fond look back at my past. Upstairs, there are many photo albums and scrapbooks reposing in the bottom of a seldom-used closet. In those pages, mementos and memories have more permanent homes, carefully pasted-in pictures and small items with precisely lettered titles that are still intact on their pages decades later.
I lingered long over that collection of memories and finally let them go into the trash. But, those mementoes, those tangible items that one time gave me such pleasure are not forgotten because the memories pertaining to them are forever engrained within my soul.
And the one item I saved? The front-page of the moon landing because it might make me a rich woman one day.