View From Grandma's Window:
The Junk Collector
apartment building housed five families and we all interacted in
one way or another. One special tenant was Milly Morrow, a perky
elderly widow with an eye for stuff. Never a day passed
that Milly wasnt hauling a treasure home (good fixer-upper
she would say, proud as punch with her latest find).
At spring cleaning time Milly
was in her glory. While the neighbourhood was discarding, Milly
was acquiring. Her apartment was like a wondrous flea market. She
was always scraping and refinishing, hammering and dragging discarded
furniture up to her third floor apartment. Milly was our queen of
recycling nothing went to waste.
The old three-car barn next
to Grandmas was a real catchall. Grandma discarded pieces
of furniture there; well-worn stairs led to a dark attic, and as
a child I discovered grandmas legacy therein. Trunks filled
with old clothes from the 1800s, hatboxes concealing huge
feathered hats. Old letters tied with ribbons; antique rockers and
tiny wash stands.
I loved rummaging through everything
in that attic. An antique dealer today would hit the jackpot, but
back then it was all just stuff. Not to be thrown out,
but out of sight as things may be needed in the future
where have I heard that before!
There was another space in Grandmas
life that was a treasure to explore. It was a room in the basement
right out of ma and pa kettle.
The center of this room was
occupied by a huge iron roller, a terrifying contraption when viewed
through the eyes of a young child. In constant use, I think it was
Grandmas most prized possession, next to her treadle sewing
But it was the mountainous piles
of wondrous things that attracted me. Grand and Mom both sewed and
every snip of a leftover was in a heap that touched the ceiling
in a few places. They made their own hats and gloves too
there was so much in this room that to find something one literally
had to tunnel. I loved this room, and was allowed to create great
Halloween costumes from its contents. Piles of discarded linens,
blankets quilts, and best of all feather ticks.
Here at the B & B in New
Brunswick, I display an extensive thimble collection that actually
originated from that room. Numerous Alka-Seltzer bottles filled
with thimbles, each with a story to tell. They were from Grands
grandmother, aunts and sisters. Yes, they did come in handy in time,
to be displayed lovingly in my home.
So in retrospect, spring cleaning
at Grands was just moving out the old to make room for the
new. Only to become what I call clutter. I would love to have some
of those pieces of discarded furniture now I know a lot went
to Grands cottage at Epping Forest, but thats another
story. More great times to remember.