What do you possess that means so much to you that passing it on to someone you love and admire gives you great joy?
According to the latest research, seniors have heirlooms more than fifty years old that they’re looking forward to passing on to others. In my own case, along with my wife we have treasured items that are well over fifty years old.
Sometimes heirlooms are only worth memories and sometimes they are worth memories and monetary value. I have a black cat doorstop. I was told that when I was between one and two years of age, I would pick up the black cat doorstop by the tail and carry it around my grandmother’s home in Nevada, Missouri. When my parents and I moved to Tacoma I was almost two years old. The doorstop came with us. To this day it’s place of honor is at on the floor by our front door. In nice weather it keeps the door open. After all these years it is still un-chipped and perfect. I was probably purchased for minimal costs in Nevada, but it still means a lot to me. A great-grandchild might have a need for a black cat doorstop.
The 2000 person survey by OnePoll for Shinola revealed that nearly half said that a family heirloom was one of the most cherished items.
Our most prized Possessions.
Family photos – 65%
Wedding ring – 56%
Piece of jewelry – 54%
Engagement ring – 50%
Family heirloom – 49%
Computer laptop – 49%
Car – 44%
Wedding dress – 41%
Child’s memory box – 39%
TV – 38%
Item of clothing – 37%
Favorite book – 37%
Piece of art – 36%
Camera – 36%
Video game console – 36%
Musical instrument – 35%
Scrapbook – 33%
After I proposed to my wife and she accepted (after thinking it over) she found a ring that she just loved. It was from an estate sale in the Tacoma Mall at Friedlander and Sons. After we had trolled up and down the mall looking at nearly invisible diamonds, she showed it to me. She knew we probably couldn’t afford it. She was right. I had just been hired at Boeing and was making $2.35 an hour. The ring was well over a hundred times that amount. The ring was one of a kind. It had a heavy gold setting with thirty-three seed pearls surrounding a Limoges enamel portrait of a young woman with long wind-swept hair and a pink scarf (L. Clement). I bought it. The final payment is next month.
My friend and fellow artist, Tony Schmid created our plain silver wedding bands in a jewelry class he was taking at U.P.S. for the wedding. They cost me $5.00 each. We still have them.
Another prized possession of Peg’s is a Native American watch band bracelet of silver with inset turquoise stones. The watch and bracelet belonged to her mother, Rita. The bracelet is kept in a small Native American woven basket.
Family photos are the number one prized possession for most people. I love this photo of my son Del, when he was three or four years old. His grandfather Ike Harrington was proudly showing him off in a suit that I had worn when I was Del’s age. This image is from the first communion of Peg’s sister Kate, the youngest of Ike and Rita’s five daughters. We think Del still has the suit. It no longer fits him.
My dad’s father was a carpenter and cabinet maker. We have a number of pieces of furniture he created, mostly as a wedding present for my mom (Mary Lavinia) and dad (Donald Sr.). Since the family was from Missouri where there are lots of walnut trees, my grandfather created beautiful pieces of solid walnut furniture.
As I child I was a latchkey kid. At birthday and Christmas times I knew every piece of furniture and where my presents might be hidden. This solid walnut vanity sat upon this wonderful chest of drawers featuring heartwood with dark walnut decorative borders. On top of the vanity is a group of lead soldiers honoring my deceased lead soldiers that died from my Daisy BB gun, a Christmas present when I was in the sixth grade and Navy Base in Lakewood. Beside the soldiers are a human jawbone, found in one of our rental houses, as well as a wooden dog my dad carved as a youngster. We all have reasons for our heirlooms and what makes them important to us.
A connection to the past and to the future is an old sled that hangs in our carport. Five winters ago our grandson Riley (son Patrick’s son), and granddaughters Bella (Del’s daughter), Laci (Riley’s sister), and Sophia (Bella’s sister) had a snowball fight. Bella and Laci carried piles of snow for a snow fort on my sled. The sled connects three generations. One winter in the early 1950s there was a heavy snow. My dad tied my sled to the bumper of his 1947 red and yellow Jeep station wagon (with a nude Marilyn Monroe steering knob) and pulled me around and around the blocks between South Ferry and Allenmore Golf Course. I filmed my buddies David and Kathleen Biddison as well as my mom riding the sled in the snow. I sat on the tailgate filming as we drove through nearly a foot of snow. No one else could drive the Jeep, so my dad didn’t get to ride the sled. I feel sorry than he missed out.
What Americans hope to inherit:
Engagement ring – 32%
Piece of jewelry – 29%
Wedding ring – 26%
Watch – 26%
Wedding dress – 25%
Wedding veil – 19%
Family home – 18%
Kitchen item – 17%
Suit – 16%
Item of clothing – 14%
Peg and I have already given some of our treasures to our kids and grandkids. We’ve shared furniture, pieces of art, jewelry and more. And of course stories, which may already have been forgotten. That’s okay, however. When Peg and I are gone, we hope our family enjoys what we leave behind. We love them all.
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