Thursday, November 6, 2014


Gown, 1947

My mother was sentimental. She kept things. She had a house with nooks and crannies where she could tuck all sorts of things, so she did. Some things were genuine treasures. Others had only sentimental value – and sometimes that’s the greatest value there is.

Beautiful gathers with piping accent
Mother stored textiles which had outlived their purpose in an old travel truck. For whatever reason, she just couldn’t throw them away. Among those things:
·       her first wedding dress (1929), a flapper style made by her mother
·       her second wedding dress (1947), a gown of slipper satin which she made
·       baby clothes, her own as well as her children’s
·       a black jumper
·       pieces of homespun
·       a ready-made dress from the 1930s which she undoubtedly loved
·       a bedspread and curtains which she painstakingly embroidered for her first home

The list goes on. Mother had tucked those “useless” things away because she couldn’t bear to part with them, and when the time came that she had to leave the old house, she was still unable to throw them away. One of my sisters agreed to store them, but she recently downsized, and some of the listed items came to me.

Jumper, c. 1925
Hand embroidery
So – here they were, and I had to do something with them. Those things were Mother’s memories and not important in the scheme of things. And yet I couldn’t help but value them because she did. Still, she had only shown them to me once or twice, and I hardly gave them a thought. As Hallie observes, when you haven’t seen or even thought about something in years, why keep it?

Beading, fringe, satin belt
Well, I couldn’t throw these things away, but as luck would have it, I discovered that a niece loves such things, so I was able to hand them on to her. I felt really good about that. But in the end, that black jumper didn’t go. I believe Mother designed and stitched it herself when she was in high school. She embellished the bodice with hand embroidery and the panels of the skirt with black beads. In my mind’s eye I could just see her hurrying down the hall at OHS to some special event, proudly wearing that jumper. No, I couldn’t part with it.
Taffeta, c. 1991
Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say. Yesterday as I sorted things for Goodwill, I tossed in a dress I made for Hallie when she was nine or ten. She wasn’t given to dress-wearing and I didn’t make many for her, but that one was my pride and joy in an era when I really didn’t have time to sew. So, as I handed boxes to the donations attendant, when I came to the dress, I found myself tossing it farther into the car so that it would go back home with me. Hallie will never wear it again – perhaps no one will – but I just couldn’t let it go. KW


Chris said...

I love this!! And we know from other conversations that I, too, have things tucked away. I'm glad you kept the jumper and Hallie's dress, and I'm glad you found a niece who will love the other things. I'm a total fan of getting rid of things, but certain items fall into a special category. My own wedding dress was tossed years ago. It was purchased, not expensive, and Ann had her own dress and we have only grandsons. I've never regretted it. Dan, however, I'm keeping!!

Kathy said...

Where did you toss that wedding dress? I read somewhere -- can't remember where -- about someone who repurposes wedding gowns into christening gowns.

Chris said...

Hmmm, I'm not even certain now whether we took it somewhere or actually tossed it, it's been that long.

Keri said...

I also love these things. Dad brought me a box of wonderful old baby clothes and other things and I am so grateful for those. I tend to be very sentimental about things too. And I have one daughter who is also sentimental. I love those dresses! Thanks for sharing Aunt Kathy!

Kathy said...

Hi Keri! I'm glad you received those things. I can tell you very little about them except what I said --your grandmother saved them. Enjoy!