Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Memory Lane

Today I took a stroll down Memory Lane.  Back in the day when I was an impoverished student nurse, some friends and I decided the time was right to move out of the confines of the hospital Nurses Home, and into a shared rental abode.  We scrounged around for household items and furniture, begging and borrowing from family and sourcing whatever else we needed from the local second-hand shops.

One purchase I made was an old travelling trunk.  It was battered and it smelled, but I liked it.  I don’t recall what I paid for it, but it wouldn’t have been much.  So I set about cleaning it up, and in the process destroyed whatever value it may have had.  I scrubbed it, peeled out the old torn lining and, I am now ashamed to admit, scraped off all the old paper travel stickers.  I then painted it dark green, lined it with wallpaper and polished up the big brass lock and leather handles.

©2016 Katrina Vincent
That trunk then followed me through a succession of share houses and family homes over the ensuing almost 40 years. Initially it did duty as clothes storage, then later, when we had real wardrobes, it became a place for sewing needs and handcraft projects. Always, it sat tucked under the window in the bedroom, or against the wall in the family room, until our last move to our current home 10 years ago, where it was relegated to an inaccessible part of the shed.

The old trunk was dragged out today so I could sort through it and probably throw out whatever has been stored there for the past 10 years.  What a treasure trove of long-forgotten items it revealed!  And what memories were rekindled as I sorted through the contents!

A collection of 1950’s knitting patterns handed down from my mum - for baby layettes, tea-cosies and socks.  Did I really think I would ever make any of those?  But it gave me a little pang to see mum’s handwriting again in notes she’d written in the margins.

Down the bottom, my old high school sewing box; my name written on the side and ‘Form 1C’ – year 7 in current terms. Inside that, a half-constructed hexagon quilt I’d started making out of scrap and recycled fabrics as relief from studying for HSC back in 1974.  Totally mis-matched and unattractive, yet still I could recall the origins of the different fabrics.  That one was from the first formal dress I ever made, that one from a favorite but worn out shirt, even one from old pyjamas.  Maybe I will finish it one day!

A bag of wool, leftovers from various projects.  As I looked at each ball, I remembered what each had been for. The blue cardigan I’d loved and worn for years; the cable vest I knitted for my husband back when things were just getting serious; the matching fairisle jumpers I made for both of us.  Kept them all, thinking I’d crochet an afghan rug one day.

Fabric – scraps from completed projects and whole lengths for projects never started.  The cream and brown print I used to set up the nursery for our first baby. Tucked in a folder of projects saved from magazines was a page torn from The Woman’s Weekly of February 1985:  “Super Special Baby Bonanza - A checklist for new mothers”, complete with my pencilled ticks in the check boxes.  Our daughter was born in November 1985.


©2016 Katrina Vincent
How ironic that I was sitting there remembering the excitement of preparing to welcome her into the world at the same time that I am excitedly preparing to welcome her home from an extended overseas trip in 2 days time!

With its contents spread out around me on the floor, I looked again at the trunk.  I wondered where it had travelled in the world, and what stories it had been a part of.  The brass plate on the lid polished up well to reveal the company name:

Travelling Goods
 W.W. Winship
71 Summer St.
Manufacturers name plate
©2016 Katrina Vincent

W.W. Winship was a prominent luggage making company established in Boston in 1776 and trading until 1973 when it was sold to the London Harness Company.

A bit more polish on the brass lock showed:

Eagle Lock Co. Terryville, Ct. 
Pat’d. Dec.6. 1892

©2016 Katrina Vincent

The Eagle Lock Company, based in Connecticut, was established in 1833 and traded until 1975.

Needless to say, nothing much got thrown out today.  I packed everything carefully back in and closed the lid.  Tomorrow I’m off to the glaziers to arrange a sheet of table glass to fit the top, and my dear old trunk can once again serve a useful purpose, this time as a coffee table in our family room.

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