Sunday, 6 October 2013

Storytelling Sunday Three: Pick Your Precious


Storytelling Sunday Three? There is no excuse for not joining in with this one! Everyone can do it. Pick Your Precious is about celebrating the little things you love: those souvenirs, bits and pieces, things from your past you can't bear to throw out. You know, the special little something you have tucked away in a drawer or up on a shelf? Or the thing you love most in a room? Or the object you would save if you knew you had to leave the country? Your favourite things.

Ready to begin?

The Mystery Chest


October? Can you believe it? Round here that means slippery leaves on the ground and bare trees, darker nights, extra layers. Maybe it's not quite like that where you are, though. I've always loved that scene in E.T. where they all go Trick Or Treating, and it's light outside. We don't do that here; so that scene is a good reminder to me of the different ways we all see the same things, the different filters we use. As we move through the year, I've been realising how our own personal filters change too. Do you think, I mean, that you would pick the same objects to show off now as you would if I had asked you to list the lot in January? Or would you have picked the same objects, but chosen to emphasize different bits of the story?

if you had asked me in January what Precious I might pick for round Halloween month I definitely would have had an idea...

...our chest of mystery. Everyone here likes to believe that it once belonged to Harry Potter; and that would be because it has his initials H.P. placed on the lid. But it's clear he has no more use for it since it has washed up with us. Truthfully, I wouldn't be trying to grab it if I had to flee from here in a hurry: it's cast iron - I think - and I can't lift it. (Though I guess that means it might survive fire, flood or plague and I could come back for it? ). But I know you want to find out what's inside...

Well, earlier in the year I'd been planning to tell you about its quirkier contents for Halloween...Great Grandpa's false teeth, anyone? Or how about the owner-less glass eye? the locks of baby hair or the Victorian mourning envelopes? there are letters and certificates going back a century or more. The Fair family owned a grocer's shop through the years of the Great Depression; and I could show you the shop ledgers. Tucked inside you'd find letters from customers who were struggling to meet their accounts. It could break your heart, even from this distance. All of these things have their own stories.

But when I started to sift through it all this week, the thing which really spoke to me was a little blue notebook, full of numbers still recognisable as being in my Father-in-Law's hand: "Money Spent Each Term at T.C.D." His college accounts from his years in Dublin at the end of the 1940's. How much he spent on "digs", on a new saddle bag, on train fares and "outside meals": a strange world of gowns and Punch Magazine. You know why this has fascinated me right now, of course. I'll be emailing his namesake, modern day student grandson who has spent the last couple of months wondering how his student loan will stretch and I'll be telling him how lucky he is that he doesn't have to buy his own coal. I think that will give him a smile. And then I'll be tucking that notebook back into the chest, in the hope that another generation will use it as a reminder of what came before. I hope someone else comes across it at exactly the right time. Just as I did. 


Maybe you have a story for us today?


Write your post, introduce it as a Storytelling Sunday story and then come back and link us up. You won't regret it! Everyone meets someone new on Storytelling day You have a full week to add your story, and the rest of the month to come back and read your choice of the others. No big rush! Have a think, take your time. And then? Sit back and enjoy the rest.

35 comments:

Susan said...

Wow, what a treasure the contents of that chest are! I would love to be able to see and read what's inside.

Kirsty.A said...

What perfect find. Fascinating. Do you know who HP was?

Becky said...

What a fantastic chest full of such wonderful items. Yes, I am sure The Tall One will be glad he is not having to buy coal! Couldn't think of a precious for today until I was making our morning coffee just now and it hit me! So once I am up and dressed will be taking the photo and writing the story,

Jane said...

I would love to browse through that, we could all learn from him I think.

Sheena said...

What an amazing Precious x Who was the owner with those initials ?
I'll have to tell Dan about buying coal as a student... he'll probably think it's for a Freshers night :O

Karen said...

What an absolute treasure. How times have changed - it's not coal that Gracia is worried about being able to afford but the new pair of shoes that she desperately needs to go with the dozen or so others she owns!

Missus Wookie said...

Ah yes, I can see why that fascinated you - and may well fascinate TTO to. The rest of the contents are fascinating sounding too!

Mel said...

It is so interesting to compare things then and now. My dad always harps on about how little he had to spend as a student and how then students only wore holey hand me downs and how today's students are so trendy and spend all of their student loan on clothes! I think as a buy it now and on credit generation it is interesting to look back and to see how carefully they logged everything and watched their finances.

Miss Smith said...

Oh Sian, that sounds wonderful! What a fantastic little slice of history - it sounds like there'll be lots of inspiration in there for years to come.

Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

Wow! That really is a treasure chest. What a wonderful slice of life it holds. I was among the year of students who were the last to get a grant, before student loans came in. Changing times.

Ladkyis said...

I am sorting through my Dad's box at the moment and transcribing letters from his brother and sister who both emigrated. As we are a large family of cousins I am going to deposit the originals in the Local Archives and make copies available for the family if they want them. I have three children and can't decide who to leave them iwtih, this way the letters are safe for posterity

JO SOWERBY said...

I have a box where I keep precious things too and at my parent's house there are several antique boxes one of which has a will from 1800 and someting with cool wax seals,
Jo x

Sian said...

You know what? I have indeed left out a bit of the story! No, we don't know who H.P. is. We have no idea

Melissa said...

What a wonderful mystery chest you have Sian and the perfect find inside for this year!

scrappyjacky said...

How wonderful to have all that history,Sian.

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

A real treasure chest! What a fun read this was, Sian, and I love the photos you have of the chest as well. How lovely to find news of an old school ledger just when your boy is transitioning. Fun story this month, as always.

Ruth said...

What a fabulous story! My precious is short and sweet this month.

Louise said...

all morning i've been thinking about linking up and reading your story....and you know you never disappoint. A wonderful interesting story x

Jennie said...

That is a real Tresure Trove to have access to Sian. My Gran and Grandad had a shop - but I don't think mum has anything like that from it. Wonderful story. Jen x

Jennifer Shaw said...

That chest is amazing. Fun to think how generations before had similar struggles.

Alison said...

What a lot of history in that chest...I have come to the conclusion that my family threw far too much 'stuff' out!!
Alison xx

Sandra said...

That certainly is a lovely treasure chest. I'm picturing now future generations looking through that book :)

Jo said...

What a gorgeous chest of treasures I wonder if there's any way you can find out who HP was :)

Abi said...

Wow, I am so envious of such a chest of treasures! The historian in me is getting super excited! I love that you found that ledger. I laughed about the reference to gowns. Here in Durham we do still wear gowns for formal occasions! Some things never change...

Deborah Weber said...

I'm so delighted to have found your blog. A real treasure chest! Such richness.

Gail said...

Oh what a wonderful looking chest and full of great things. I love how your father-in-law kept a ledger of his stay at University and had to laugh at the thought of having to buy coal. I like the mystery of not knowing just who HP was - maybe an old customer who couldn't pay his bill in cash and instead traded.

Cheryl said...

The mystery chest contains real treasure! How cool to have this piece of family history.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

That chest sounds like such an awesome thing to have.
And yes he is very lucky not to have to buy coal. :)

Lisa-Jane said...

Gosh! Maybe a few more of today's students might like to realise how lucky they are too! I think the chest is fabulous without anything in it but with so many wonderful bits and bobs in there with their own stories, well there's a book right there, let alone a story for a Sunday. Have fun with the memories!

S said...

It sounds like you could get more than a year of additional stories out of that trunk. I am sure there are good reminders for future generations there - including the heartbreak stories.

Miriam said...

What a fabulous story Sian and such a treasure to have. It is sure to raise a smile on your son's face when he sees it. Buy his own coal! I read it as coat, my son would have been horrified to have to buy his own coat at UNI but coal!!!! What's coal? he would say.

Barbara Eads said...

That little blue book is a most awesome keepsake. I'm always envious of others that have such great memorabilia. All I can do is to be sure that I leave behind great stuff too! Not too much, but at least the stories of our life. Maybe your son might start a little book of his own. It would be so much fun to compare the two.

Maria Ontiveros said...

What a great chest of treasures. As I went through boxes left by my parents and my Aunt, I kept all sorts of similar things because they were truly too precious to throw away.
I've sent my boy a few care packages already, and he's really appreciated them. He seems to be getting on just fine so far. Hope its the same for the tall one.
Rinda

Sinead said...

Catching up on the stories from last Sunday (better late than never!) and I love this Sian! It's so precious to have that little piece of history that your father-in-law wrote when in Dublin. I have several friends and cousins that attend/have attended Trinity College :D Thank you so much for telling this story! x

tidbitsandtreasures2011 said...

You have a gift of wisdom, whimsy, and word. I could almost see the chest you describe (though I was a little squeamish about the false teeth it contained!) And I truly appreciate the connection you make between the names and experiences of the generations. Inspired, for sure!

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