Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Written Heirlooms

Today I'm going to 'borrow' a topic from my friend, Ben, who wrote about his grandmother's postcard. I thought for a moment that I had nothing like that, but quickly, the thought was changed, as things tumbled across my mind.

When my grandfather served in the early days of the US Coast Guard, he had many hours to spend entertaining himself while he was not on duty.  He was stationed at different Long Island Coast Guard Stations, which today would not take long to travel to, but in the beginning of the 1920's, they were quite a distance from home.  Grandpa was a craftsman, he built model sailing ships with intricate rigging and sails made of tin cans. He made beautiful macrame items, as well. Mom still has a belt and a ladies pocketbook knotted by Grandpa's hands.  But, another interest he had, which falls under the blog topic, was calligraphy. There are beautifully scribed cards, the size of business cards, which are swirled and feathered with a talented hand and a quill pen.  These pieces not only show that he was good at the art, but what he wrote speaks too, of what was on his mind. Each card reads "Walter and Lillian". My grandmother was on his heart as he 'doodled'.

When my paternal grandfather passed away, in his possession was a 'grocery list'. It has a date on it, which at the moment escapes me, but it was somewhere in the mid-1800's.  My grandfather was one of the younger of seven children, born in 1886.  His father was a steam boat captain, piloting local waters to ferry people from Long Island to  New London, Connecticut. He lived on Shelter Island, and my guess is that he 'took orders' for staples and needful items from his family and neighbors. Then he'd deliver the goods when he returned home.  It's interesting to see the items, much of which we don't hear much about these days....lye soap was popular, and multiple orders of bay rum were among those.

On my husband's side of the family, there is much written material....letters that date back to before the Civil War, more recent letters to an aunt from Edward  R. Morrow. (Yes, THE Edward R. Morrow) There are two books written by his uncle, Samuel Gailey Mortland under pen names. These collections of his poems are indicitive of life as he lived it and understood it. There are his strong opinions of political people, his praises of Teddy Roosevelt, his memories of his boyhood and  thoughts of family and events.

It is wonderful to look these things over from time to time, as each viewing gives me new insight into those who put their hand to paper so long ago.  I, like Ben, wonder whether anything I've written will survive to future generations, and whether or not they will consider my words to be trash or treasure.
I guess I'll never know for sure!