All this unpacking – is it all junk that should be disposed of or is our junk someone else’s rare object? Should I open up an antique shop? I’m beginning to think so. Janet’s Collectibles! Of course Ian’s rarities would be included also but I suspect he wouldn’t want to be identified. Rare and beautiful objects from all over the world! From remote Himalayan Kingdoms, South Sea Islands, Deep Darkest Africa, shipwrecks in the Caribbean – step right this way!
On a more serious, and touching note, here is a bit of family history. In 1966 when I went to Kenya, my mother moved from the family home in Boston to the island of Maui where she worked as a librarian and travelled around the island on the Bookmobile. She eventually retired and stayed on there until she passed away in the year 2000. I tried to save all her papers and letters and photos and memorabilia. We were quite rushed in trying to empty her house as we could only stay in Hawaii for a limited time. I sent 3 large boxes back to Dublin and when they arrived I just stored them away and never seemed to find the time to go through many of the items. Now all those items have arrived back in Seattle and today in my unpacking I found a lovely letter which she had saved. The letter was written by my father’s mother, my paternal grandmother, to my mother in Belmont Massachusetts. The letter was dated December 31, 1939 and the postmark on the envelope is January 1, 1940, 10:30 a.m., Bradenton Florida. The envelope has a black and white imprint of the Hotel Dixie Grande, Bradenton, Florida, Open All Year, Every Room With Bath, Steam Heat, Fireproof, Coffee Shop, Fireproof Garage. The letter is in very clear handwriting but I reproduce it here as follows:
My dear Dorothy,
Here we are all settled in the sunny South. While you are blanketed in snow, which I suppose delights Ruth and Nancy, we are enjoying the sight of green trees, poinsettas, and heavily-loaded fruit-trees in front yards as well as in orchards.
On the way down there was snow enough to cover the ground as far south as Richmond. We were surprised to see it.
We are very comfortably situated here. From the folder I had imagined that the Coffee Shop connected with the hotel would be like the one at the Biltmore in Providence, but instead it is a regular dining-room, with thick rugs and overdrapes. At dinner the waitresses are dressed in old-fashioned costume, small-checked gingham,-pink, green and blue,-flounced to the elbow, with gathered skirts to the floor. They wear white muslin kerchiefs crossed at the neck and fastened with a cameo pin. On their heads are little rosettes the colour of the gowns. The biscuit boy is a little colored boy who wears a white coat and a large white baker’s cap. Quite fetching! The Christmas decorations are a tree in the lobby and one in the dining-room, with many clusters of balloons on the walls, besides other fmaller features.
I like it here very much.
Dearie, I like to think of that last day when you had us all for lunch. What a happy time it was! Janet was so lively and so good. I thank you for everything you did.
My mother and father were married in December 1935. Ruth and Nancy are my sisters by my father’s previous marriage. In 1939 Ruth would have been almost 14 and Nancy almost 13. And I, Janet, had just turned 3. I wish I could remember this grandmother. She sounds a lovely loving person. She was born in 1862 so she would have been in her 70’s when she wrote this letter. I wrote a blog about her a couple of years ago – she knit for the Red Cross, probably during both World Wars, and she also wrote poetry.