Handicrafts edition

I’ve inherited numerous boxes, folders, bags, and piles of well, assorted stuff, from family members over the years. It’s a busy life, though, so sometimes they sit around unopened and mysterious for years while I parse things that have more urgency, or are simply closer to the top of the pile. I unwrapped a box from a long-closed department store in Hartford last night, and found two lovely sewing bags. Here are some photos, before they are wrapped away in acid-free tissue paper, pending their final destination.

antique sewing bags

 

Below is a detail of the “H” on the black bag, done in gold thread in a wheat-ear stitch with French knots.

fancy-bags-H-detail

 

And another detail, of the interior of the figured bag with sewing pad (the soft white wool is a little moth-eaten) and ivory needle.

fancy-bags-work-detail

 

And now, back to 1939

New Year’s is a good excuse to clean up and out, and I was down cellar drinking coffee and looking through boxes for most of my day off. (We did take a walk through deep snow and bright sunshine down at Seawall in the early winter afternoon. The sun was already going down at 3:00 pm.) I found this photo between the pages of a 1965 era copy of the Hartford Courant, with a key on the back in my mother’s handwriting. A note on the back of the photo reads: Smith Family Reunion at Montague, Sept. 1, 1939. (Click to enlarge.)

Smith Family ReunionFrom various other records I believe this is Montague New York, not New Jersey, but please feel free to confirm or correct in the comments. Montague, NY had a population of 78 in the 2010 census.

My favorite couple in the photo are Dave and Mabel Turner, below. Mabel was my great-great Grandfather Robert Wiley’s sister. The clothing, their expressions, the furniture dragged out on to the lawn, it’s all wonderful.

smith-turnersThis is my grandfather, Frank Watson (Wat) Burnham, Jr. In 1939 he was 36, with red hair and blue eyes, married to Geraldine (Wiley) Burnham, below.

smith-watson In this detail are my grandmother, Geraldine (Gerry), and her mother, Bessie (Smith) Wiley. Bessie is Robert’s widow,

Geraldine and Bessie WileyGerrie was five years younger than Wat. I only remember her as a much older woman of course, but I loved her dresses, generally a dark cloth with a lighter pattern and fastened with a brooch at the neck. I also love Bessie’s smile.

Happy pie day

pie pie pie crispMmmmmmm. From bottom to top:

Pumpkin pie, recipe by Fannie Farmer, variations: no additional milk (evaporated milk only), homegrown pumpkins roasted and pureed, not from a can, 4 eggs not 3 (to make up for the lesser amount of milk, and accommodate the fresh pumpkin texture). I’ve been unable to find accurate versions of my 1950’s edition FF recipes online, so I’ll post them later.

Apple pie, recipe by Martha. Variations: Locally grown, fresh picked Cortland apples were very juicy, added 1 Tbs tapioca and let the filling ingredients sit for 15 minutes before added to the pie shell, doubled the amount of spices.

Maple pecan pie, recipe from Martha as well. Variations: twice as many pecans. The original recipe only takes 1 1/4 cups and that’s too high a ratio of pecans to filling for my taste.

Pear and cranberry crisp with gingersnap crumble, recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Variations: added some local dried cranberries for texture and sweetness. This was a new dish for me this year and it got great reviews.

Oh, and there were cream puffs in honor of R’s birthday. Fannie Farmer’s recipe for the pastry, with creme anglais filling and ganach top from The Professional Chef.

cream puffs

Those Winter Sundays

winter clothesA poem by Richard Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

 

A Grandma and her Cat

I have so far stayed far away from sharing cat pictures on the ‘net, but  Misao to Fukumaru (Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat), the story of an elderly woman and her beloved “odd-eyed” cat living in the Japanese country side is irresistible. Find a slide show of photos from the book at nippon.com titled “Enjoying Life One Day at a Time: A Grandma and Her Cat”.

The giant white tubers in these photos are Daikon radishes. I can grow them here in Maine but it will be many years before I have this depth of soil. How many years do you suppose the Bōsō Peninsula has been home to farmers? As to the photo of bathtub filled with orange gourds, I really wish I knew what was going on there, I do.

The book by photographer and grandaugher Ihara Miyoko is available from various sellers on Amazon.

 

Happy Birthday, Harriet Louise.

In honor of my mother’s birthday, here are a few of my favorite photos. You can imagine her with auburn hair, brown eyes, and I believe the checkered dress was green and white. She’s standing by the east porch of her parent’s house on Jerome Ave. during the summer of ’48.Harriet 1948Harriet and her fiancee, Dwight, in the “front parlor” in 1951.

Harriet and Dwight 1951Harriet, Dwight, and Amy at the lake, 1955.

Harriet Dwight Amy 1955Happy Birthday, mom!

 

 

For all the fathers

I’m late with this, I know, but it’s been a long, beautiful day in the garden followed by pizza and chocolate cake with friends.  And there has been a steady stream of news from the Greek elections which will arguably have an effect one way or another on every part of the global economy so yes, late to the party with a post on Father’s Day.

So for my small part of the festivities from the Giant Shoebox of Old Photos comes 1957, when Father’s day looked like this:

Candid Dad

And in 1928 my great grandfather holds his eldest daughter Harriet (my mother) at five weeks old.

RHB with HBB

To all the generations of fathers down the line, Happy Day.

July 4, 1968

While I was growing up my family had a set routine for celebrating the “Patriot” holidays. Washington’s Birthday was spent at Aunt Margaret’s house. Her husband, Bert, and my grandfather and the other white males in town spent the night at the Mason’s Hall in sacred rites and a fair amount of liquor. The women and children had dinner back at the house followed by charades and story-telling, possibly some entertainment at the piano. On Memorial Day we went to my grandmother’s house which was conveniently situated on a hill above the parade route and watched the veterans of the foreign wars and the fire company go up Jerome Ave. and down Tunxis from our picnic on the lawn. July 4 was spent at the middle sister Mildred’s house. Uncle Raymond stored the watermelons in the dairy cooler and we rode our bicycles at break-neck speeds around the old barn foundation. There were bruises later, and road-rash, and fireworks in the field at night. Here we’ve been dragged away from our fun and lined up for a mugshot.

1958

Folks will have to help me out with identifying everyone – there are no names on the back of the photo. I’m on the far right in the blond pigtails and woe-is-me expression. Is that Stevie W. in the checkered shirt to my right? Are the twins in the middle John and Russell C.? Who is that in the overalls, and the one in back with the helmet? I bet somebody out there might recognize themselves. . . think back, folks, and let me know?

Hardy Ancestors: Oliver and Louis

I cleaned out some of my mother’s storage locker today. I hauled out two table tops sans legs, a bag of curtains, four plastic boxes of truly miscellaneous kitchen gear (Salad Shooter!) and a box of playing cards so far gone with black mold they looked like dead leaves. I rewarded myself by taking home a shoebox marked “old photos” and now, after a lovely long day in the garden, I’m picking through the black and white and sepia prints of Barnards and Wileys, picnics and formal portraits, some with names and dates on the back of the photo and some who will be anonymous forever, now that everyone who knew them has passed on.

kitten brothers

This one is labeled “Carleton’s sons Oliver and Louis Barnard, 1931, at L. H. Barnard’s house, back steps”. The kittens are cute, but their names are lost to history.Also – great hat, Oliver!