Friday, November 06, 2020



One of the very best vintage events in Eastern Nebraska is the annual jumble/yard sale to benefit the Sarpy County Historical Society. Held in September, it is typically a highlight of my thrifting year as I never fail to come home without something wonderful. The donations run from fine art, to vintage clothing, to household appliances, linens, and honestly, every imaginable thing. I've come home with lamps, vintage shoes, an antique krumcake iron, a basket full of bakelite and celluloid buttons and buckles, magazines from the 1930s, and jewelry.  There's always loads of jewelry ranging from .25 cents to a dollar. 

At the sale in 2015, I was looking through the items when I noticed a woman, probably in her fifties watching me. Sometimes I pick up on people's body language without knowing exactly what's going on. I remember asking if she wanted me to move so she could have a look through, and she said no. After a bit she told me a lot of the items I'd picked belonged to her mother and she was glad they were finding a good home. I remember asking her if she was sure she wanted to get rid of them as she sort of patted the pile I'd set aside. She assured me she did, took a last look at a necklace, and we wished each other well. It has been bothering me ever since. 

There's a school of thought that when someone dies it is best to have a clear-out, save the few things you want, and just get on with living. I completely understand that, and as a vintage collector, I sort of depend on people possessing that attitude. Except that grief isn't one-size-fits-all, and while the various stages have some merit, they don't always necessarily arrive in order. I've had thirty years to sort out my feelings about my mother, but the woman at the sale was, from what I could tell, recently bereaved. It was too soon, but what could I do? 

I've kept the items apart from my collection figuring given the size of the town, I was bound to run into her eventually at the grocery store, etc. and I could offer them back  to her. That hasn't happened yet. I only got to thinking about it because stuck at home isolating, I've been cleaning and sorting my accessories and I came across the pieces again. They're delicate things. Mama must have been tiny, and not a terribly flashy dresser. The single bead on a chain seemed to be the piece the daughter was pleased to see go to me. There's nothing terribly special about it, but it must have sentimental value. I'd really like to be able to offer it back to her, if she wants it. Five years is a long time, and maybe she's still absolutely fine with it, but something made me think that she cleared out her mother's things in haste, and might have thought better of it had some time passed. I might need to employ the assistance of the museum staff to look at records of donations for that sale, and absent that, perhaps they would put a notice in their newsletter? The local paper would be another possibility. 

I don't now if it is the pandemic making me unusually sentimental, or if it really was something I felt specifically about a grieving daughter, but if she wants them, I'd like to return her mother's items to her. If not, I'd be happy to go ahead and wear them knowing that she hadn't had second thoughts. So I guess that means I have a project and a bit of detective work to do. There's worse ways to spend time. I really hope I can find her. 


Emily said...

That is so kind of you, and also it sounds like fun! Yes, the museum and the local paper would be a great place to start. And don't underestimate the power of Instagram. I keep hearing of people tracking down the most hard-to-find objects and people that way.

If you can't find her, you can still wear these pieces with a clean conscience.

bahnwärterin said...

you are such a lovely person!
you can try to find that woman, but don´t be to disappointed if she is not interested.....
i stopped to think other peoples thoughts - i was starting to lose myself and in the end nobody was thankful.

Bibi Maizoon said...

I really miss thrifting, I used to always meet the nicest people (even a few lifelong friends!) I think I must have donated 1/3 of my household to Forgotten Felines (feral cat rescue) of Sonoma County when I left the USA - everything that didn't sell at auction or garage sale.
I made your gingersnap recipe & it was delicious! So easy too, they remind me of the gingersnaps I used to get at Alice Water's Chez Panisse bakery in California.
In reference to your question on the previous post: Most Himalayan peoples are B+ from the westernmost Kashmiri to the far eastern Sherpa tribes. I called 2 local teaching hospitals and they are seeing only a 5% rise in admissions? The total COVID-19 death toll of our province is 102 to date this year, total current active cases are 2,000.

Vix said...

That's so thoughtful of you.
I must admit I got rid of almost all mum's clothes and accessories when she died, it was my way of dealing with the grief and filling my time in that awful space between her death and the funeral.
Mum had a ridiculous amount of costume jewellery, a chest of drawers full which I told her friends (and mine) to sort through and take whatever they liked. Sometimes I see them wearing the bits they'd chosen and think maybe I was a little rash but it's given them pleasure and it would have been silly just to hold on to all that stuff. xxx

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

It sounds to me as if the woman was pleased to see her mum's items go to someone like you, Goody, who would love and treasure them. I wouldn't worry anymore or try to contact her but just let it go.

We're watching the US election results with great interest!

Take care

Goody said...

I hope it would be kind-you never know how someone might take it.

You might be right. I'm having second thoughts.

So glad you liked them. They're really adaptable to whatever you have (molasses, treacle, butter, crisco, etc.).
I hope you continue to have good luck with the cases. Glad you have your sense of taste back too!

I did a similar thing, though to this day I'm still in possession of a piano I never play. I should have unloaded it 30 years ago.

You're likely right. I don't know why it still bothers me so much.
The election is quite the shambles. I keep getting up each morning, checking to see if he's gone yet, and he isn't. Frustrating!

Vix said...

Thinking of you and celebrating with a glass of wine!!!

Polyester Princess said...

How thoughtful and kind of you, Goody! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you can find her. My Dad cleared out most of my Mum's stuff after she passed away, which I thought was really sad. So, when he passed away, I took home all these little mementos, including the few things of my Mum's my Dad had kept. I love having some of my parents' things around the house. That lady might have indeed regretted her rash action, but she might also have been pleased her Mum's jewellery went to a good home! xxx

Beth Waltz said...

We've encountered something like this dilemma at the local historical museum. Families die out and the survivors -- usually elderly daughters-in-law or nephews -- are baffled by the appropriate disposition of trinkets and "treasures". Since our motto is: "We tell his/STORIES", we accession them as a group, aka The XFamily Collection, and preserve their box as an element of our community's social history. It appears you've curated a similar collection -- would you be satisfied if you found a name for it?

Miss Magpie said...

My friend Charlotte did just that when her Mum went into care with dementia. Ruthlessly blitzed through her flat and got rid of pretty much everything, now 4 years later every now and then she laments doing it such a knee jerk clearance. It's difficult but like you say grief isn't a one size fits all.