When we are lucky enough to become the owners of a new old piece of furniture, it is rare that we learn its history. The pieces often arrive in our homes by way of a country auction, an antique store, or a neighbor’s garage sale.
Mr. Spring and I became the owners of this old cedar trunk this week.
We were lucky enough to unlock its back story.
My grandmother graduated from high school in the midst of World War II. There were only two boys in her graduating class because all of the others had been drafted.
Shortly before she graduated, her 37-year-old father, who had three children, was drafted. He was the last man from her hometown who went to the war. Most of the male population aged 17 to 37 were fighting for their country. Grandma, her mother, and siblings received $100 from the government each month for her father’s pay. She said they always had money remaining at the end of each month.
After graduating, Grandma worked as a secretary at a small business in her town.
At the same time , she started writing letters to one of the boys from her class who was fighting in Germany. He was shot by the Germans on three different occasions, but after every wound healed, he was sent back to the front line.
Just like other girls her age, she wanted a hope chest to keep the items she sewed and bought for her future. Afterall, she liked the young man a lot and had hopes for their future.
She hired a local carpenter to build this solid cedar chest for her. The price was $25.00. That was a lot for her back then, but she had hope.
The young soldier eventually returned home from the war. They dated, became engaged, and married. Her trunk served her well. It was full of items she needed to set up housekeeping.
As the years passed, the trunk ended up in a corner of my grandmother’s basement holding old items like my grandfather’s Army uniforms. She decided it needed to be put to use, and so when she and my mom visited me this week, it came along with them.
No longer relegated to the basement, it now has a place of honor in our bedroom. It will be starting a new story as Mr. Spring and I follow the example that Grandma and Grandad, who have been married for 66 years, have set for us.
How about you? Do you have any family pieces that have a special story?