Tag Archives: gloves

Gathering stories at the modern hearth

In some traditions, winter is a time for families to gather round the hearth and sing and tell, and retell, their stories. It is winter here and, appropriately,  I am busy  recounting, recording and researching family history,  stories, myths and legends. It is fascinating ‘work’, but very exhausting for a scatterbrain, like myself, who has a disinclination for the orderliness and systemic approach needed for successful genealogical study. What that means is that I keep forgetting names and dates and things like which person is my great-aunt and which person is my great- aunt’s second husband’s brother.

Anyway, I do the best I can, and hope that great-aunt’s second husband’s brother, dead for ever so many years, will forgive me 🙂

As I find information, I tell it to my family. Some of my regular followers may remember that I am the only one of my family in Christchurch. The rest of my immediate family live across the ditch, better known as the Tasman Sea, in Australia. So, for story telling, we cannot gather round a true hearth. Instead, we gaze in to the glow of our individual computer screens, and the investigation and celebration of our common narrative begins. (We would do Skype video if our broadband were faster and cheaper! ) There is laughter and sadness  and a plethora of memories, and, sometimes, as we chat, we gain new insights and knowledge. Other times, we become confused and lost in trying to understand the whys and wherefores of  our family roots.

Here is a typical Skype conversation of an evening. This one concerns a death notice I found for our great great grandmother who was referred to as a relict.

“[31/07/2013 12:56:52 a.m.] Sister: i like in the papers past the death notice “a relict of”
 Me: yes
 Me: yes
 Sister: it sounds like a relic
Me: it is
Me: it means a left over
Me: a relic
Sister: like u r old and left over frm thr couple that was
Me: a remnanat

Sister: heheeheh

Me: remnant
Me: also widow, or dowager
Sister: omg it really truely means it
Sister: hilar
Me: Ye s\
Me: hilair

Sister: okgtb
[31/07/2013 12:58:29 a.m.] Sister : nite nite”

The conversation happens after midnight, my time, and has no regard for grammar, for punctuation or for spelling; it is free-form, as if we truly were side by side discussing our latest find in the family story.

Here is another story time from our modern-day hearth, the computer screen. This time, my mother and I are engaged in a tale of her meeting with royalty.

“[25/07/2013 9:41:54 p.m.]  My Mother:  you all know the story of how I was introduced to Lord  Louis ofcourse
Me: You can tell me again
Me: because I probably don’t remember it properly
My Mother: well Gwen was sick and Uncle Ernie decided to take me along to the Civic Reception for the Mountbattens ,I was introduced and Lord M gave my hand a shake   very Royal  it was all over very Quickly really I think they were on their way back to England
Me: What did you wear?
My Mother: probably my best dress it wasnt an evening affair
Me: what was your best dress? Do you remember? Did you need gloves and a hat?
Me: It must have been a quiet visit to Christchurch because nothing is coming up about it on the internet
My Mother: No Ithink it was rather informal really and very short Idont recall my dress  or having hat or gloves”

And thus the conversation went, and the strands of family history were considered and sorted and reworked, much as though we were by the fireside of old, working together on the spinning and weaving of sturdy, new cloth  to keep us warm in the days ahead . Through some further investigation on my part, I was able to tell my mother, later, that the Mountbattens made a fleeting  visit to Christchurch in 1946. And we, my mother and I, went on to recall the time she and my father  met Queen Elizabeth, on a walkabout,  in Christchurch in 2002.

Much of my mother’s Christchurch, the physical structure of it, was destroyed by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  The churches she knew, the schools she went to; all rubble.  However, I was very pleased to be able to tell her, from my recent family research,  that the home where she spent the first  years of her life is still standing. As is the adjacent building which was her father’s first shop in Christchurch. The building, which is currently home to a hairdressing business, is being repaired and strengthened to new earthquake standards. So not all is lost to time, and, just to be sure this piece of our history will be around for future story telling and reminiscing, I took some photos and uploaded them to the web, my flash drive and my external hard drive.

© silkannthreades

The Glory of a Box continues

The story begins here in my previous post (https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/2340/)

Part Two

The Glory of A Box continues….

Glory Box

Glory Box

Then there’s the clock. It used to be on the mantelpiece in Nana’s bedroom. Dad and my uncle both remember it. They played with it as children. It didn’t go then. It doesn’t go now. Why is it in Mum’s glory box? No one is sure. But it’s there, brown and slightly irregular in shape,

Irregular

Irregular

along with a wooden tray, and Stanley Smith’s barometer

Barometer

Barometer

and the book of invoices from our Pop’s Mart. The book records the tastes and payment habits of most of the rural community of Methven (circa 1938), as well as my sister’s doodles and passion for Ray Columbus and the art of running away (circa 1971).

Doodles

Doodles

Mum’s scrapbook is in the box too. It’s a work of art from her student days at kindergarten training college.

And I find the gloves. Still sunshine-yellow, mixed up with a touch of custard. They still fit me. But the moths have had their fill and the gloves tear as I try them on. Perhaps they can be salvaged. I put them in the maybe pile.

We decide the box can be saved. It’s a very plain box; a plywood box. It wasn’t expensive at the time of purchase.  It’s not worth much now. But Mr Frizzell at the corner furniture store says it’s rimu plywood and it can be made to look nice again. He can restore Dad’s picture too. Dad says, “Can he be rejuvenated too?”

Mr Mallard, across town, cleans the barometer and fixes the clock. The barometer, once on a wall in Methven, once on a wall at Sumner, now hangs on my wall. The clock sits on the chest of drawers beside my bed. It ticks busily. It reminds me of Nana, small and busy and slightly bent, and I wonder when she last heard its busy little tick, and why she kept a clock that didn’t tick.

The box is placed at the foot of my bed. It’s not warm like honey anymore. It is oiled and has a rich, earthy sheen that matches my writing desk. The top is still a little warped but it is a glory box again. Inside there are clothes and lavender and unlabeled photos. Fanny and Rajar are there, but Teddy is not. He has gone to Sydney to be with my brother,  current custodian of Ted’s silver pocket watch. Lily, who may be Sissy or Mary, is there. And the gloves.

Back in the Box

Back in the Box

Box notes for 2013:

The box no longer lives in my bedroom. It enjoys a better life in the living room. The clock is temporarily secure in a bedroom drawer. The barometer remains on the wall where it  miraculously remained secure despite the huge earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

For information on Ray Columbus, the New Zealand pop idol of my sister’s very young years, go to http://www.raycolumbus.com/

And, in recognition of the never-ending inspiration that comes from the Glory Box, please, please do visit my find of the day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6fpN2g3pwY  This is a wonderful programme and interview with Paul Engle, the founder of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Until my research today, I had no idea of the connection between the theme of my mother’s scrapbook and this great American poet and his philosophy of helping hands.  Listen and enjoy, as he reads some of his poems.

© silkannthreades