Thursday, November 25, 2010

Heirloom of the Week

Once upon a time this little camel-backed trunk was the property of my great-grandmother Cora Amanda Mobley Hodge. It sat for many years in my grandparents' house, full of assorted odds and ends. Sometime in the 1970s my mother brought it home and turned it into an art project. Covering objects with gold foil was popular at the time and she proceeded to convert the rusty brown trunk into a golden trunk. Only the hinges, wooden trim pieces and lock were left un-foiled.

The foiling has not held up all that well over time and refurbishing furniture is not my thing, so when we moved, it ended up sitting in the garage for awhile. My mother had used it to store her sewing patterns and piece goods intended for future sewing projects. When I finally got around to emptying the trunk, the patterns were in tatters and the cloth was brittle. For awhile the trunk sat empty and I debated whether to put it in the pile of things to go to the thrift store or to just junk it. The hinges had been broken for as long as I could remember and the lid just sits loosely on top of the base. The state of disrepair, not to mention the application of gold foil, has rendered its value pretty much nil as an antique.

But I could not bring myself to dispose of it. I'm a real sucker for hanging on to the items that give me a tangible link to my ancestors. So not long ago I hauled it back into the house and decided to use it to store other pieces of family history that are in my custody.

In the top tray you will find my mother's and my brother's baby shoes, my great-great-grandmother Mary Caroline Mobley's and my grandmother Lucy Hodge's purses, my great-grandfather Elmo Hodge's toothbrushes, photograph albums and a box of newspaper clippings that belonged to my great Aunt Fay Hodge Branton.

In the large lower section are my father's sermons, my great-great-grandmother Mobley's Bible, my baby book, the registry book from my great-grandmother Nettie Mason's funeral, the guest book from my parents' wedding, various diplomas earned by my parents and myself, cards that were sent to my grandmother after my grandfather Horace Hodge's death, various scrapbooks from my school years, notebooks and scraps of paper filled with my father's poetry, the black funeral notice that hung on the family door when my great-great-grandfather Joseph Mobley died, and other bits and pieces of family memorabilia that have been placed in my care.

It is not a thing of beauty on its own. It is just an old, beaten up trunk that has seen better days. But it sits in my study, holding things I value because they link me with the past. If I ever have to evacuate, the first 5 things I will grab are the cats and dogs. The 6th thing I will grab is the little hard drive that holds a back up of all the genealogy files and family photos. After that I will grab the little gold-foiled trunk. It holds a pile of family treasures.