Silver Threads  Fall 1998


   Editorial Bits and Bytes

   Readers Gather Their Treasures

          Granny's Apron
          The Little Round Mirror
          A Garden of Treasures
          Preserving Treasured Documents
          Treasured Memories
          Hugo Taught Me
          Images from the Past
          Treasures of  Fashion
          Save it All
          Treasures and Attitudes

         Editorial Bits and Bytes

In this issue we return to the use of reader responses to a
central question. The question deals with how we feel about the
possessions we have collected over a lifetime and which we feel
are "treasures."

As you might expect the responses varied just as all of that
stuff we have stored in our attics, garages, and other treasure
sites varies.

We start and end with a poem, one about what a young girl
treasured from her granny's possessions and the other some
musings from a daughter-in-law while examining mementoes from

      Readers Gather Their Treasures

from  patd@chatback.demon.co.uk

When my mother died our daughter did ask for her granny's apron,
as the poem says, and carried it everywhere with her for about a
year at the age of eight. I suppose she's forgotten it now, as
she's got two little ones of her own.

            Granny's Apron

"Granny's apron,"
Our daughter said,
Her bright blue eyes awash
With unshed tears.
Granny's apron?
Why should she choose
An apron,
When there were other things
More valuable
As keepsakes?
She took it everywhere
A comforter
In time of need,
Just like Granny.

A Granny now, myself,
In days to come
I shall be glad
To be remembered
By "Granny's apron."

   Patricia M. Davidson. August 1998.


From: Rosaleen Dickson    rosaleen@igs.net

               The Little Round Mirror

When Elizabeth appeared at the graduation party, after receiving
her PhD in molicular genetics from the Rockefeller University in
New York,she was wearing the T-shirt her little brother had
brought for her with "Dr. Liz" printed on the back.

It was June, 1976. David and I had driven down from Canada to
witness the ceremony. Elizabeth is our middle child, with
brothers and sisters both older, and younger. Tuberculosis had
kept her in bed for the entire twelfth year of her life and slow
recuperation robbed her of many of the pleasures that other
youngsters her age enjoyed. I would never say that Elizabeth was
our favourite - with six children you just don't have favourites
- but she certainly was greatly loved by us both and brought
forth the best in all of us.

Leading her class in high school, Elizabeth also had time to
produce prize winning plays, coming home from competitions with
trophies that were too large for her to carry. She operated a
summer theater, coaching classmates who are now headliners in the
entertainment business. She regained her strength and made
headlines herself, paddling a canoe, with her father and younger
sister, from Kingston to Ottawa and then to Montreal. When her
marriage dissolved Elizabeth still had undergraduate courses to
complete so she worked nights as a Heffner type bar bunny,
completed her BSc in Ottawa and then graduated from Rockefeller
where she was immediately hired on their teaching staff.

Elizabeth still wears the graduation ring we gave her, but we
didn't expect her to give us graduation gifts as well. But she
handed us two tiny blue boxes - her "thank-you" gifts to us for
whatever it was that we had done to help her achieve this great
milestone in her life. For David, a tiny silver penknife, for me
a little round palm-sized silver mirror. Each was engraved
"Elizabeth 1976."

For 16 years David carried that little knife and used it
constantly. Now I have it, in my purse, beside my lovely little

Now you wouldn't appreciate how much this little mirror means to
me unless you had known Elizabeth during all those years. Her
career took off in all directions. She has been entrusted with
the most demanding assignments in journalism, in science, in
government, and in world affairs. She has held positions of such
responsibility that nobody except our Elizabeth could have
managed them, and as I write, now in her fifties, she is
bicycling through Ireland with the same sister with whom she
paddled across the great Rideau Lake 40 years ago.

If I had to escape this place with only item, I would abandon my
computers, the trays of disks, all the CDs and even my box of
foreign coins - and I would palm this little silver mirror, and
the tiny pen knife that always stays with it, and feel content.

When family friends asked Elizabeth, on her third birthday, how
it felt to be three, she said, "time passes quicker when you are
older." How true!


From: BetsyCas@aol.com

A Garden of Treasures

Though my home is filled with family treasures which my children
will enjoy, those in the garden seem more important to me, plants
which have moved with me from house to house. My
perennial/wildflower garden holds a Jacob's Ladder dug from a
farm field some 55 years ago. That farm field is long gone, now
completely filled with houses. The Sundrops and Wild Phlox
followed from my mother's garden, and the Periwinkle and
Mandrakes from my aunt's. Black-eyed Susan came from a Girl Scout
Camp, where I left a wild geranium plant in its place. Solomon's
Seal and Bellwort were from a neighbor who told me, "Don't say
thank you - they're not mine to give, just ours to care for as
long as we're here."

Not much of a gardener, my husband treasured the Maidenhair Fern
we bought on a trip up North and he nurtured it carefully during
his lifetime, wouldn't let me touch it. Physostegia, Yellow
Coneflowers, Purple Coneflowers, Brown-Eyed Susans, Wild
Geranium, Jewelweed, and Ferns all carry special memories.
Milkweed found its way into my yard and now feeds the Monarch
Butterflies which I raise. My city-garden holds a wealth of
treasures for me and friends with whom I share the bounty.


From: Carla  MacGregor  sudeka@asktransitions.com


I have recently discovered the true meaning of a treasure hunt.
On a recent trip to my grandmothers home, I ended up in the attic
with her on a Sunday afternoon.  Our intent was to begin cleaning
out some of the stuff that had accumulated over the past fifty
some years.  By all accounts a dreary and cumbersome task.  But
on this day I approached my ascent into the attic as an adventure
and discovered  my grandmothers history.

Among all the seemingly nonsensical items, were some that held
the secrets of my grandmothers life.  One of the treasures was
the incredible collection of hats that grandma had.  Since I have
known her, I had never seen her in a hat, so you can imagine what
a surprise this was.  These were hats from her early-married life
including the hats of her children.  I spent a long time
unwrapping the tissue paper that encased these hats.  None of
them looked older than a few years, a testament to my
grandmothers attention to detail.  Grandma told me stories about
the hats for which she could remember the history.  I was able to
gather in my minds eye an image of grandma dressed to go to
church, into town or out with her husband.  I loved the idea of
who this young woman was.

I spent much of my time asking questions about her youth, growing
older, and all the stuff that had happened in between.  For
grandma I think being up in the attic, surrounded by all this
history made her realize how the time had gone by so quickly.

I didnt come down the stairs with the hats. We had wrapped them
up again and left them for another time when we would tackle the
attic.  But grandma knows that the hats would have a special
place in my home, and I think she liked that.

ed note - for more of Carla's stories visit

From: JULIUS BLUM    jfhb@erols.com

        Preserving Treasured Documents

Why not computerize your mementos? When my mother passed away in
1997, my brother and I took inventory of the few items that she
had preserved since her wedding to my father in 1925. Many things
seem to have disappeared through the years, but she did manage to
save a few documents and two photo albums. My original idea was
to process everything using my scanner, transfer the results to
floppy disks and possibly "do away with" the bulky, deteriorating
hard copy. This turns out not to be as simple as it seems.

I am now in the process of building a new "Family Scrap Book"
with captions, to give our grandchildren and their offspring a
detailed record of our family history spanning a period of almost
100 years. My computer makes it possible to produce additional
printed copies and electronic photo album. The collection
includes my father's birth certificate (1901), college class
photo (1925), marriage certificate and driver license dated 1929.
Our German passports are preserved in their original leather
jackets. The steamship contract for passage aboard the Dutch
steamship "Statendam" in 1939 should be of special interest to
future generations, as well as my mother's "Green Card" issued
aboard ship as it entered American waters. The collection also
includes photographs depicting the building of a new life for our
family in this great land of freedom and opportunity. I hope to
have all this completed by Christmas, to be included in a package
to my teen-aged nephew.


From: Marian Leach     mleach@radiks.net

                 Treasured Memories

I especially treasure visits from grandchildren. They say and do
such dear, funny things. Here are a couple of examples.

"Grandma, what is that sign on the light pole for?" The
questioner was seven years old. Actually, she's my
great-granddaughter, but addressing me as grandma is easier.
"That is a neighborhood watch sign. It's a warning to burglars
who might try to break into our house and steal things. It means
we watch each other's houses so this won't happen."

"Oh. But what if a burglar did break in when someone wasn't

"Well," I replied, "we have a burglar alarm. If a burglar did
break in, the alarm would go off and scare him away. A light
would flash, and the thing makes a very loud noise."

After cocking her head on one side and thinking a second or two,
she asked, "Grandma, don't you mean the alarm would go ON?" The
sequel to this episode is now, "Grandma, would you turn on the
burglar alarm." whenever she comes for a visit.

One of my granddaughters is now 24 years old. For 20 years, every
time I see her(which isn't often enough), she says, "Grandma,
tell the turkey story." The turkey story goes like this: Neda was
visiting grandma at Thanksgiving time. She wanted to see the
turkey cooking in the oven. So grandma turned on the light, and
Neda knelt by the door.

Soon, her shocked little voice whispered, "Grandma, IT MOVED!
Come close, but be quiet." So grandma knelt beside her and peered
through the oven door. "The turkey couldn't move because it's
dead," she told her.

"But, see--its heart is beeping!" the four-year-old exclaimed.
Indeed, it did look that
way as the boiling fat under the skin made it puff up and down.


From:   Patricia Schade "P.L.Schade" pasha1@gte.net

                            Hugo Taught Me

Like most people I have treasures......things that make me happy
when I look at them. There are gold rings and diamonds, pearls to
wear on special occasions and a lovely light green cashmere
sweater that is as old as my youngest daughter. There is a
figurine of a mother goose and her four babies (like me) given to
me by a dear friend, an Austrian crystal turtle from my husband,
a Kwan Yin carved from jade...a gift for my 50th birthday and a
hundred other things large and small that give me pleasure. They
all dropped off the "importance" chart when we heard that Hugo
was headed our way.

We lived on an island off the coast of Georgia then....a
beautiful place but dangerous when the weather turns rough. For
days the hurricane had been dancing back and forth along the
coast line shattering everyone's composure. We had never had any
serious damage before, the house was sturdy and we felt fairly
safe. We listened religiously to every weather bulletin and went
to be earlier than usual....just in case.

There was not much sleep that night......the winds howled and the
rain came harder than I could ever recall. By four in the morning
we had decided to pack the car and head for Atlanta. We got
inland before it hit but heard that the highways were stalled by
9AM with the cars of those that had made a later decision to run.

We stayed with friends and wondered if the house would be there
when we got back.....Hearing reports that Charleston was being
swamped didn't help our state of mind. Finally, everything
settles down and you get a minute to think about close calls and
what's really important.

Clean underwear was packed and all the usual stuff you might need
for a short trip......but the pictures of the children, the
little tin box with all life's important papers, and yes....the
family jewelry went into the trunk first. None of the rest
mattered all that much it seemed.

Three days later it was safe to go back.......we found no real
damage at all.......a few trees down in our yard......but the
house had stood strong. Some of our neighbors were not so
lucky......roofs flew off, cars were tumbled about like toys and
many had been damaged by the rain and high tides.

When I think about that day I know that photographs, papers and
clean underwear are high on the list of what's really
important.......the rest of it's just "icing on the cake".


From: Marv E Keefer   mkeef@erols.com

                Images from the Past

My garage is "filled" with things ("treasures") that I am having
a very difficult, seemingly impossible, time thinning out after
downsizing. However, if I were forced to make only one choice, I
would choose my photo albums - the single best record (and
memories) of my life. The future I can make and take of as it
comes - but the past is gone... except in memories.


From: Harold HAKALE@aol.com

             Treasures of  Fashion

We all know, those of us over forty, how crazy kids dress today.
Ten years ago, my nephews, two teens thought it was cool to wear
shorts with three inches of boxer underwear showing from beneath
them on the legs . At first glance I dismissed the sight as some
kid in a hurry to get dressed that morning. My God ! I thought I
wouldnt walk out of the house like that!  Embarrassing, something
a five year old might do out of sight of mother.

Soon I began to notice that all of them were dressed that way. I
asked my brother in law why his kids did that. I could tell by
look of disgust on his face, that it warranted no answer. So I
thanked heaven I had a girl. Every time I'd see kids on the
street in this latest fashion trend I just kept my mouth shut. An
imaginary balloon above my head just had one word, STUPID. As
time goes by, things get much worse. Soon after that I began to
notice kids walking around the Mall with their sneakers untied
the laces trailing , the longer the laces were the more this
child could be known as cool.

Thank heaven I've got a girl ! Shortly after , a new abomination
became apparent. Boys began wearing pants that were so long they
bunched up at the ankles. First thought is,  too lazy to get them
hemmed. A sloppy disheveled look seemed to be the mark of a
well dressed man-boy. Wide legged, three inches too long and half
falling off the waist pants.

If I dressed like that in the forties I would have been shot as I
walked to school, yes, I said walked . I was embarrassed,
mortified, because my mother made me wear funny underwear.Some
kind of shorts that covered the top half of my legs. I dont think
jockey shorts had been invented yet.  Never mind , they will keep
you warm and who will see them anyway, was her standard reply.
Makes me feel like a baby went through my mind. I had visions of
being in an accident and the doctors,nurses saying, hey, look at
this, he's got baby underwear on.

Now my daughter has a freaky fashion aberration. 12 Boots ! Not
just ordinary ones, they have to be imported from England. One
hundred fifty dollars a pair. If she doesn't have these her life
will be ruined ! Those imaginary balloons are hanging over my
head again. An inexplicable phenomenon has appeared in the slacks
she now wears. Not content to wear her own jeans, she now dons
mine. Too big, you would think . At first, I said , Hey! Aren't
those my pants ? Oh well I hardly ever wear those anyway. Then I
noticed , she folded them over at the waist, hidden by the loose
fitting upper garment. For God sakes why dont you get mom to buy
you some jeans that fit, I shout ! To this she merely gives me a
demurring Giaconda smile.  these are cool. Jesus wept !

This morning as I dropped her off at school , she lifted her pant
leg to pull up her sock and I noticed the Doc Martin, boots were
untied. Why would anyone do that ?  I remarked, when she
proceeded to go without tying them. Lots of people wear them like
that, she said defiantly. I guffawed, loudly and of course this
was met with a look of revulsion, like the discovery of something
smelly on ones shoe.

Thank heaven I've got a girl.

 From:   Tom D  adam@doct.demon.co.uk

                 Save it All

I had a mother who passed on or threw away anything she thought I
no longer had a use for. I still regret the loss of a beautiful
1926 Toy Daimler car with reverse gears, still in its original
box; a 1925 Crystal set labelled British Broadcasting Company
(the predecessor of the Corporation), A 19?? ?Hammond Typewriter
with removable Type on a revolving Arc. No doubt all rather rare
objects today.

The result of my upbringing produced the contrary effect by
me loathe to part with anything.	One of the largest rooms in
my Duplex has been lost to me as it is overfull of things I
thought it prudent to keep. But every action or inaction has a

Today my duplex is too large for me and I am dividing it into two
single floor apartments. My collection of 45 years of books,
clothes, pictures and furniture has to be cleared out.

Fortunately I have a tiny hovel in the country and there are
several sheds which can be filled.... but my resolution is to
throw away anything I don't really need, those  one or two
objects that I can do without.

I realise my executors will probably throw everything away and
the Actuaries would say I had only another 3.7 years of life. So
Marley-like I approach my Ninth Decade with all my Possessions
Intact even if they are mostly in Boxes.


From:   Mike Moldeven  MikeMldvn@aol.com

              Treasures and Attitudes

I think it's easier for an elderly person to decide to "keep"
what is, to her or him, a personal or family treasure, even
though the object might be junk to others, even those in the same
and immediate family. Either way, to keep or dispose, the process
of the decision-making entails reminiscence; conversely, perhaps
the process adds one more acknowledgement of mortality, and
thereby influences the attitude toward life.

There are no easy answers, and very few middle-years progeny of
elderly parents have the sense of family history and tradition,
and the patience, to deal with "treasures to you but junk to me"
along with their own battles for survival.

>From  Suki Pay


Weeping and still funeral clad,
her daughter sorts, folds, discards.
Wardrobes with a ragbag
of patterns, fabrics, styles and eras:
gold shoes and matching bag
from Bayreuth nights
next to gaudy beach dress;
a bag of belts marked Woollen Tights;
gifts from grandsons loyally preserved
in dressing table drawers;
photographs, programmes,
handkerchiefs with pins still in place.

Somewhere a skillful surgeon
threads a needle, draws the wound:
all these reminders wiping out
the dementia, bringing back
the real craziness of her Mother.

Suki Pay