Showing posts with label heirlooms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heirlooms. Show all posts

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Cameo Brooch

My mother had a small collection of cameos:  two pendants, a set of earrings, and a brooch.  I always admired the creamy carvings with their peach backgrounds.  Mom -- the private one who revealed little about her past -- never mentioned the history of any of them.  They could have been gifts, heirlooms,  purchases, or....  When Mom passed away I assumed I would never know more about them.

Then I found my parents' marriage announcement with my Mom's other papers.  It reads,

                     Mineral Ridge Girl Marries

(Special to The Vindicator)

     Mineral Ridge, Sept. 16.--Miss Audrey Meinzen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Meinzen, and Lee Doyle of Niles, were married at 7:30 p. m. Thursday in the Methodist Church.  Rev. Robert L. Clemmons read the service.
     The bride wore a gown of blue velvet with a cameo brooch, the gift of the bridegroom.  She carried an arm bouquet of pink roses.  Her matron of honor, Mrs. Earl Tuxford of Niles, was attired in wine crepe and carried fall flowers.  Mr. Tuxford served as best man.
     Mrs. Isabelle Woodward sang "I Love You Truly" and "O Promise Me" and Mrs. Phoebe Johnson played the traditional wedding marches.
     Following the ceremony a reception was held at the home of the bride's parents.
     Mrs. Doyle was graduated from Mineral Ridge High school, class of 1933, and from Warren Nurses' Training school in 1937.  She will continue her work for the present.  Mr. Doyle is associated with the Niles Rolling Mill.
     Following a short honeymoon the newly weds will live at 20 N. Chestnut Ave., Niles.

"The bride wore a gown of blue velvet with a cameo brooch, the gift of the bridegroom."  As far as I know, Mom had only one cameo brooch, the one shown at right.  I feel confident to say that this was my father's wedding gift to my mother.

They were married on this date, September 15, in 1938.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Advertising Gift - Treasure Chest Thursday

This little note and pencil holder are from the late 1950s from my father's side business of repairing clocks, watches, and jewelry.  He must have purchased a case or two to give to his regular patrons.  My mom probably saved a few and now I have this lovely green one.

It is 3 3/4" wide and nearly 7" tall.  These holders came in green, blue, yellow (and possibly pink).  It was originally made to hang on a wall from a nail but I've adapted it by putting magnetic tape on the back so we can hang it on our refrigerator.

It's become fragile through continued use and has been repaired several times.  The little Dutch couple are attached to the holder by only their shoes and the connections between the tops of their shoes and their dress/pants are very thin. 

There are three things I love about this little treasure.
1)  The color:  truly a 1940's green.
2)  That it was made in America!
3)  And the phone number on the advertising:

OL. 2-7979

I doubt I will ever forget the phone number of our home -- the same from the time I was a child until my mother passed away in 1997 -- but should my memory fall short I now have it on hand.  Of course, the area code has  changed.

Anyone who was a child of the '50s will probably remember that phone numbers were a combination of letters and numbers.  Those first two letters stood for a word.  In our case, it was "Olympic."  My best friend's exchange was "Liberty."   The letters were eventually exchanged for numbers.  I don't know what difference it made since we dialed the same numbers.

I think my father hoped that one day his watch repair business would become a full-time means of providing for his family.  It didn't work out that way:  he continued to repair watches and clocks as a side business while working at Copperweld Steel 40-60 hours/week.


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

J is for Jewerly - Family History Through the Alphabet

Cameos are the jewelry I'd like to share.  Even though my father was a jeweler, we females of the family didn't own or wear much jewelry.  My mom and I both had lockets.  I suppose my sister did, too, but I don't remember.  My mother had several rings, including her engagement and wedding rings, a single strand of pearls, some earrings that she wore frequently, and these cameos.  She had other jewelry but none that is memorable.

When I was little I loved the larger cameo brooch with the dancing ladies.  Who knows why something catches a child's fancy?  Perhaps the dancers looked happy, even flamboyant to my young eyes?  When Mom wore the  brooch  she also wore the earrings, above it.  They are not exactly matching but since they're separated by a face, I doubt anyone compared them.  I don't remember my mother wearing either pendant.  The one on the left is my favorite these days.  I love the details of it.  The one on the right is so pale that it didn't photograph well.  It must have been a part of a larger piece of jewelry -- at least that's what I guess because of the rings both top and bottom.

The large brooch is about an inch and a quarter long.  I didn't measure the others but you can guess their size from the photo.  The metal on the large cameo was repaired at some time in the past and it looks like it needs a repair again.  It was interesting to photograph these then enlarge the photos to see so much detail.  (You can enlarge the photo, too, by clicking on it.  It will open in a new screen and be larger, then enlarge again if you click on it in the new screen.)

As I was researching cameos today I learned that I have not been as kind as I could have been to these.  They have been together in a fabric holder but because they are susceptible to scratches and breakage they should be carefully stored either laying in their own places without touching other pieces or gently wrapped in fabric.  I also learned that they can be cleaned with white toothpaste and a soft toothbrush.  Because the shells dry out, they also need to be conditioned a few times a year with baby or mineral oil left on overnight and removed with a soft cloth.

I love these cameos but they've been hiding away and I rarely look at them.  Maybe I should find a small shadow box so I could display and enjoy them.

This post is a contribution to Alona Tester's Family History Through the Alphabet challenge.  You can read more about the challenge and find links to others' posts at her blog, Genealogy and History News.  Thanks, Alona.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Mother's Little Rocker

My mother, Audrey Meinzen Doyle, is sitting in what has become a family heirloom. I can't tell if she has a little scowl on her face or if it's curiosity I see as she peers at us. I love the big bow in her hair, the little doll in her lap, and her plump little hands. I'm still surprised when I see photographs of furniture out-of-doors, away from its natural, protected environment inside a house or building.

This little rocker sat in our home all the while I was growing up, used by my siblings and me as we grew into and out of its size. It continued to sit in my parents' living room during the years little grandchildren visited and it remained there until we removed my mother's possessions from her home before selling the house. The little rocker came home with me; its sister piece of furniture, a little cupboard built of the same dark-stained oak, went home with my sister.

My mom was born in 1915 in Warren, Ohio, but after her first two or three years lived the rest of her life in nearby Mineral Ridge. I'm guessing the approximate date of this photograph as 1920 because Mom looks about 5. Could this be a birthday photo (she was born in June) with a birthday gift of the rocker?

Mom once told me that her grandfather made this chair for her but she never named which grandfather. In some families that might not cause uncertainty but in my family it does: both of my mother's grandfathers were carpenters! The grandfathers in question are her maternal grandfather, Edward Jesse Bickerstaff, left, and her paternal grandfather, Henry Carl Meinzen, right.

Edward J. and his wife, Mary Thompson, also lived in Mineral Ridge. In 1920 Edward J. turned 49 years old. He was a carpenter by trade, built homes, and was experienced with tools. Henry C. lived in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1920, with his wife Elizabeth Armitage. Henry turned 83 in 1920. On nearly every record his occupation is different but on one record he was listed as a carpenter, on another as a wagon maker. Clearly he had carpentry skills. Considering the ages of the
grandfathers in 1920 and considering that Edward J. lived nearby and Henry C. lived some distance away, my guess is that Edward J. was the builder of Mom's rocker.

Until just a month or ago the little rocker sat bundled in our attic. I thought of it when the Abundant Genealogy theme was Family Heirlooms. Though it sits idle for the time being, with a grandbaby coming along it won't be too long till a little one will enjoy the rocker once again.

Click through to Sepia Saturday and see what photographs other participants have posted this week.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Family Heirlooms - Abundant Genealogy Week 6

Sometimes I forget I have things that once belonged to and/or were made by my parents and other ancestors. I decided to make a list, as far as my memory takes me today, and make more additions later. Now that the list is made I should photograph these things and write about them.

It's hard to say for which I'm most grateful. Some of them in combination speak of one aspect of the life of a family member and are things that were a part of my childhood. Other treasures hold no actual memory of my ancestor and yet our hands meet across time as I touch the same thing he or she touched. Some are more present in my life and are in use often; others are seldom seen. Either way, I'm grateful for all of them.

Heirlooms in my possession either permanently or on temporary loan
  • my father's roll-top desk
  • several small chests of drawers that my father used for watch parts and other small items with drawers are about 1" high and from 18" to 22" wide (You can see two of them on top of the desk in the photo at the link above)
  • small parts, papers, containers, and tools from inside my father's desk
  • a mending basket and a button basket that belonged to my grandmother
  • a pink depression glass lidded jar that my mother used in the kitchen
  • my grandfather's fedora
  • a rocking chair that one of my great-grandfathers made for my mother when she was a child
  • a framed village scene that hung in my grandfather's barber shop (which my grandmother was going to throw it out and I rescued)
  • several journal books that my father kept to record the repairs he made and the cost of parts to make the repairs on houses he rented to others
  • two rectangular metal baskets my father used to carry tools to make the above repairs
  • my mother's photo album (on temporary loan, as I understand it)
  • my grandmother's photo album (also on temporary loan, as I understand it)
  • my grandmother's recipe box and a spelling tablet she used to copy recipes
  • several pieces of jewelry from my mother, father, and grandmother
  • a metal belt buckle with the letter "G" in its center which my mother once said belonged to my grandfather, Gust Doyle
  • one of my father's tobacco pouches
  • my mother's 1941 black Singer sewing machine (which I still use)
  • a double wedding ring quilt made by my great-grandmother (generously given to me by my brother)
  • a double- or queen-size Dresden Plate quilt top pieced by my mother
  • a single-size Dresden Plate quilt my mother pieced and she and my grandmother quilted
  • a set of hot-pads crocheted by my grandmother
  • linens embroidered by my grandmother
  • a family Bible that belonged to my great-grandparents (which doesn't have and never had family information pages)
  • ephemera and scrapbooks from my mother
  • more to remember
I have a post in progress about my mother's rocking chair.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This post was written to participate in Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy which is hosted on Geneabloggers. The theme will change weekly and may be posted any day of the week. This week's theme was family heirlooms. (For which family heirloom are you most thankful? How did you acquire this treasure and what does it mean to you and your family?) This challenge ran from Sunday, February 5, 2012 through Saturday, February 11, 2012. I invite you to participate if you'd like.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Signs and Tags and My Father's Jewelry Business

Besides working as a foreman in a steel mill, my father, Lee Doyle, was a part-time, self-employed jeweler. His shingle - a lighted sign - hung on the west side of our front porch on Furnace Street, facing Main Street.

I must not have paid too much attention to what the sign looked like, except that it was a golden yellow and had his name on it. 

People came to our house from the Ridge as well as some out-lying areas. They dropped off wristwatches, alarm and other kinds of clocks, and jewelry for repair. Some people called ahead but most just knocked on the door. I think most of Dad's business came by word of mouth.

When someone brought an item for repair, we wrote the individual's name and phone number on a tag. The older tags were numbered with a tear-off ticket to give to the customer as a receipt. The newer ones that he used in later years had only a space for a name and phone number. I think people were more trusting in those days and didn't mind not receiving a receipt indicating that they'd left an item at our house.

We would lay the item on Dad's desk so he would see it when he came home and was ready to work. After he repaired the item, he put it in an envelope and he or my mom would call the customer to let him/her know that the item had been repaired and how much it cost. Sometimes they made arrangements for day and time for the person to come retrieve the watch or whatever it was. More often than not, the people just stopped by.

I doubt my father ever made very much money with his watch repair business but it must have been worthwhile for one reason or another for him to continue.

In those days all the clocks were wind-up and had tiny gears and wheels and springs. Dad was giving up his repair business at about the time battery-operated clocks began to be popular.

If you want to learn about the roll top desk where my father worked on the jewelry, you can read My Father's Desk.

If you'd like to read about and see photos of some of the tools he used and see boxes from some of his suppliers, you can read From Inside My Father's Desk.

If you'd like to look at some other old photographs and read about them, you can go to Sepia Saturday.

Do you have any self-employed ancestors? Do you remember any small businesses that were set up inside individuals' homes?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maw's Quilt

My favorite quilts have always been the ones stitched from the colorful fabrics left after cutting patterns to sew dresses and shirts and aprons. Scrap quilts. Their brightness and variety thrill my soul. The rhythm of pattern and the plain background soothe my mind. And the intricacy of the prints and plaids pleases my eye. As a child I loved looking at the fabrics in a Dresden Plate quilt my mother had made. It became a game to see where the same fabric landed in different "plates." It's no wonder then that I love Maw's quilt. But that's not the only reason I love it.

Maw was Tressa (Froman) Doyle, my father's grandmother. She was the lady who took care of my dad after his mother died when he was but a month old. Perhaps Maw was Dad's comforter when his father remarried and he realized that his new stepmother would not love him. I don't know how close Dad's and Maw's relationship was but I know that they loved each other. I can feel her love for him in her quilt.

Dad was 21 when he left the farm in 1934 after his father, Gust Doyle, died of colon cancer. Maw died on March 27, 1936. Perhaps she made the quilt before my father left the farm. Perhaps, when he moved to Ohio, where some of his maternal aunts lived, he carried Maw's quilt with him. I like to imagine that the quilt spoke to my father of Maw's love for him. Considering that the quilt's pattern is a "Double Wedding Ring," she must have imagined a future time when he would marry and use this beautiful quilt on his and his wife's bed.

There is more to the history of this quilt. I don't remember my parents using this quilt but I know it's been washed and used because of the gentle wear that shows on some of the blocks. At some point in time my mother must have decided to take it out of use to protect and preserve it. I'm grateful she did or we wouldn't have it now. Years later, when my brother and sister and I cleaned out my parents' home, we had to decide who would get which possessions -- which were treasures we wanted, which did none of us want. Maw's quilt went to my brother for two reasons: he is the oldest and his wife had been a master quilter. It seemed the best new home for the quilt. He took good care of it.

When I went home earlier this month, my brother surprised me with the gift of Maw's quilt. I was -- I still am -- without words to describe how I feel about his generosity to entrust its care to me, as well as to have her quilt in my home. I am overwhelmed with emotion. Thank you, Bob.

I know that relatives who knew Maw said she had a difficult personality. But when I hold this quilt I know that inside her gruff exterior was a loving heart. I sense the love for my father that she stitched into every inch of the quilt.

Below are some photos of the charming printed fabrics Maw used. As I look at them I wonder if the prints were scraps from sewing dresses or aprons or curtains. Maybe she bought eight yards of the prints specifically for quilting. Or perhaps she traded fabrics with other ladies who quilted. I will probably never know. Not knowing does not in the least diminish the joy I feel when I look at Maw's quilt. I love Maw's quilt because she made it and gave it to my father.

Do you possess items that ancestors have made? Can you feel or sense their love?

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tressa Rose

Tressa Rose (Froman) Doyle is known to her family as Maw. She is Pap's wife and my great-grandmother. I could have chosen any day in March to remember her birthday because there seems to be no record of her exact birth date -- just March, 1867 -- so I'm choosing today to honor her.

Maw's parents were John and Catherine (Saylor) Froman. From census records it appears that John was a coalminer in western Pennsylvania. Though I have found no record or other evidence of his death, I believe he died between 1870 and 1872 for two reasons: he's on the 1870 census, but not on the 1880 census; and indexes of Mercer County probate records on film at the FHL show that S. W. Mannheimer was appointed guardian to Tressa and Jacob Froman in December 1872. Tressa was a few months shy of 6 years old at that time. What would life have been like for her, in the 1870's, without a father?

I was told by a family member who knew and loved Maw (other than my father, who never mentioned Maw's personality) that she had an unpleasant disposition. Aunt Tressa said Maw didn't like children and didn't talk about her own childhood or her parents. Could it be that Maw's childhood, like my father's, was difficult, possibly even tragic? Perhaps it was better not to remember and relive hard times -- living through them once is enough to change one's outlook.

Maw took care of my father from the time his mother died when he was a month old until he was about 3, when his widowed father remarried. I suspect that Dad and Maw developed a special bond during those years.

Aunt Tressa wrote that Maw was a beautiful housekeeper, a good seamstress, and that she liked to quilt. My brother has a quilt Maw made for my father. It is a lightweight summer quilt. The quality of the quilting varies. Maybe age and ailment were contributions to the quilt, along with the love I'm sure Maw felt for her grandson, my dad.

Perhaps Maw's disposition changed over time. We know she had palsy and wore a shawl which she used to cover her face when the palsy occurred. What other ailments might she have had as she grew older that could have caused her to be unpleasant? We never know how another feels, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. I'm giving Maw the benefit of the doubt: unpleasant disposition or not, I love and respect her.

Happy Birthday, Maw! I hope you have a wonderful birthday, whichever day in March it is.

This post was created to honor Maw, Tressa (Froman) Doyle, and is being submitted for the "I Smile for the Camera" blog carnival "Give Their Face a Place." Maw has a place in my heart.

Quilt photograph Copyright © 2010 by Eva Doyle.
Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

From Inside My Father's Desk

I sometimes wonder how I came to have so many of the small objects from my father's desk. But here they are, in my home, still in his desk.  Maybe you will enjoy seeing some of them.

As a side business, my dad was a jeweler who repaired and sold wind-up watches, clocks, and jewelry.  It seemed that there were always watches and clocks in various stages of repair at our house, along with the several clocks on the walls and the ones we used in our bedrooms.  Names like Elgin, Gruen, Swartchild & Co., Bulova, and Regulator were common in our home.  Also common was the ticking that was never silent, that kept us company night and day.

A childhood schoolmate once asked me how many clocks I thought we had wound and running at our house.  I told him probably a hundred.  He scoffed.  I went home and counted.  I was never very good with numbers:  there were about 40 clocks that were in process of repair or that were ours, and about half of them were ticking.

My father seemed to have a penchant for small containers, mostly boxes of metal, cardboard, and wood, and chests of little drawers.  Watch repair parts arrived in tiny tins.  The tins were packed inside cardboard boxes which had metal tabs on the sides.  The tabs slid into holes on the box top, then folded over to hold the lids in place as they bounced through the mail.  The tins and boxes were probably a necessary by-product of his work, but if he didn't like or appreciate them, surely he could have passed them on.  Most of them came to me empty, the parts used to help some watch tick along.

These photographs are deceiving.  The blue tin on the left is about 1 1/2" across.  The other two are about an inch at their widest.  The tin at the top of this post is also about 1 1/2" across.

Tools My dad must have had excellent manual dexterity and fine motor skills to manipulate these tools to work with the tiny watch parts.  In the round glass box at top, those little watch hands are perhaps 1/4" long, maybe shorter.  Miniscule!

In the photo on the left, the longest hammers are about 8" long.  In the photo on the right, the tweezers are 4 1/2 " long.  You can approximate the lengths of the other tools.

Some tools he bought, some tools he made as the need arose.  I understand that he made the littlest hammer in the photo on the left.  He also made the little "poker" with the flat spiral handle in the photo on the right.

The screwdriver is laying against a metric ruler with millimeter markings and centimeter numbers.

The plastic of these loupes is worn and broken.  They were very well- and often-used.  However, the magnifying lenses themselves are in perfectly good condition and I sometimes use them to remove splinters or pick out threads or see fine detail.  They can be combined to increase the magnification as needed.

And then there was the Sen-Sen.  I suspect that anyone who's ever tasted Sen-Sen remembers either liking it or disliking it.  People usually have a strong reaction to it.  My dad kept one of these little packets with its tiny black gems of pungent flavor, not in the desk itself, but in the chest of small drawers on the right hand side of the desk top, bottom drawer.  I think there was always a packet there but only occasionally did Dad offer us the black bits, and I don't know what prompted the offer.  I only recently learned that Sen-Sen was (and still is) marketed as a breath freshener when I searched for it on the internet a year or so ago.  I was thrilled to learn that it is still made -- and that it tastes the same!

Perhaps I have these items because I happened to be at the right place at the right time when my mom was cleaning out Dad's desk; or perhaps my mom realized that I would appreciate them and saved them for me; or perhaps no one else in the family wanted them.  I think having these objects rest in the home that was always theirs, my father's desk, is the perfect place for them.

You might also like My Father's Desk.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.


Monday, January 11, 2010

My Father's Desk

I grew up with my father's oak roll-top desk.  It was HUGE - just bigger than you can imagine!  In fact, it seemed like it was not just a desk, but a presence in our home.  I cannot look at the desk without thinking of my father, and if I think of my father, I usually think of the desk.  Of all the work my father did around our house -- and he did a lot because he repaired everything and could do anything -- I most remember Dad working at the desk.
My father was a foreman at a steel mill.  He worked turns so his hours changed every 5 days.  As a side business he repaired watches and clocks and was a jeweler.  He used this desk for that work.  It was a perfect workspace because the desk had a key.  Dad would unlock the desk and roll it open, leaving the key in the keyhole.  When he closed the desk, he turned the key to lock it, then laid the key on top of the desk.  I guess the key was really only security against little investigative hands.

Such memories I have of this desk!  Dad sat at a short, round piano stool that put his face - and eyes - very close to the work surface of the desk.  He also used jeweler's loupes until he eventually purchased little magnifiers that he attached to the frames of his glasses.  With those, he could move one or two of them down to get proper magnification to see the tiny parts.

In the center of the desk sat a white enamel tray with raised, curved edges where the timepiece he was working on and all its parts laid.  On the sides of the desk were hooks where he hung work to be done and finished work.  There were also slots below those where he could stand some tools, tweezers and such.  To either side of the tray were tools that he couldn't hang, some in stands with holes where he put tiny screwdrivers and pliers.  Sometimes he used a little alcohol burner with flat, triangular sides so that he could rest it on its flat bottom or on one of the sides so the flame would be angled.

Some of the parts for watches were very, very tiny.  I occasionally remember him asking us to help him look for some piece that had dropped.  We really needed to use our x-ray eyes to find some of the pieces - tiny screws a 64th of an inch long or little gears not much larger.

The lower part of the desk had 3 drawers on each side and at the top of the drawers were flat pull-out "trays" (they must have a name but I don't know what it is).  We were to keep out of the drawers - except the middle drawer on the right.  In that drawer my dad kept a cash box, tags, and envelopes.  When we were old enough to help people coming to pick up their items, we opened that drawer to place their money and to make change.  If a person came to drop off repair work, we took out a tag and on the tag we wrote the person's name and phone number, then tied the tag to the item and put it on the desk.  When the item was repaired, Dad put it in one of the envelopes, which also had a space for name and phone number.

There was a regular drawer in the center of the desk.  It was wide and several inches deep.  I think Dad kept tools in it.  He'd also added another drawer below that one which was a wooden frame to which he'd attached fabric around the edges to make a kind of loose, droopy surface.  He used that for larger, lighter weight tools.
On top of the desk in the center was a lamp.  On either side of the lamp were sets of drawers where Dad kept small watch parts.  Except in the lower drawer on the right side chest of drawers he kept a package of Sen-Sen, which he occasionally offered to us, and a nail clipper in a little leather case with a snap on it.  Mom never got out the Sen-Sen (perhaps she didn't like it) but she opened the drawer to get the nail clippers.

The desk was so large that it dwarfed the room in which it sat.  The room was narrow and long and I think the desk took up a quarter or a sixth of the room!

When it came time to move furniture out of my parents' home, my brother and sister announced that the desk would be mine.  I didn't refuse it, but I didn't have a clue where we would put it in our own home.  It was so large - and my husband's and my house was smaller than either of my siblings' homes.  I drove it home in two trips, first the top, then the bottom.  We rearranged furniture and found a home for it.  A few years later we moved to a larger home and the desk now sits in our living room.

When my brother and sister come to visit, we always look at the desk -- and marvel how small it looks.  Was the room where it sat in my parents' home just very small?  Or does our memory of the desk's size stop before we grew to adulthood?

My most recent measurement of the desk indicates that it is 30" deep by 48" wide by 40" high.  How did it get so small?!  And how did it become such a presence?!

You might also enjoy From Inside My Father's Desk.

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