Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shadow Box Memories

About twenty years ago when my husband and I became by default the oldest generation in our family, I found myself with a plethora of memorabilia. Some I gave to any of the younger generation who showed interest (which is why I have only one of my grandmother's wedding slippers,) some is displayed on walls and cabinets, some is filed away in trunks (three wedding dresses -- mine, my mother's, my grandmother's - what madness is this?)

This shadow box is one result of my trying to find things to do with this wealth of material -- it combines things from my family and John's family.

The eyeglasses and cameo were my grandmother's, as was the little crescent moon pin. ((I think she told me she bought it with money from her first paycheck.) And the stern-looking lady in the brass frame is her grandmother -- Eliza Horn, circa 1850.

My favorite thing is the letter in the lower left corner. It was written by John's grandfather on August 30, 1913 to Miss Fay Parker. Evidently her family had taken her to the beach for a "rest cure" and had forbidden Gene to visit, though family members could -- including a young male cousin who may have aspired to Fay's hand as well. In the inside of the letter, Gene mentions this cousin and says he may have to introduce him to "Sweetlips" -- Gene's name for his shotgun.

However the family may have felt about Gene, who was only two years out of high school, the fact is, as the wedding invitation shows, he and his 'Fairy' were married on October 21 of the same year.

And John and I attended their fiftieth anniversary party!

There's a picture of my grandmother with my mother in her lap, my grandmother's silver thimble, a snap of my grandparents in a rented buggy, a locket, a little book that belonged to Fay, a tin type (daguerreotype?) of her father, and many more bits and pieces. (Click on the pictures to "biggify" for a closer look.)

And on the back of the shadowbox I put an envelope with a description of the various artifacts -- an aid to memory.

A good thing because I had to use it to write this post.

Posted by Picasa


Victoria said...

What a great way to display family memorabilia! May I borrow your idea? Mine is scattered throughout my cottage and studio, and I think I'd better get it all in one place before I forget what belonged to who (whom?).

Martin H. said...


You don't need me to tell you how very important it is to treasure these links to our forebears. I am fascinated by the collection and the way it is so lovingly displayed.

Mags and I have our own priceless reminders about our home. Would you believe, I even rescued the wooden threshold my grandmother polished with lavender wax each day, before the installation of ugly UPVC doors and windows.

Pat in east TN said...

That is really the neatest idea Vicki! A good way for you all to enjoy those things, instead of having them tucked away, out of sight, and the descriptions on the back is the best.

I love things like that from the past and find it so interesting.

Liz said...

What a wonderful piece of family history. When we moved my Grandmother out of her apartment last year we discovered that she kept scrapbooks filled with all of their travels and family photos. Everything anyone sent her - photos, news clippings, she saved! Putting these things in a shadowbox is a great way to display these memories - thanks for the good idea. I love the photo of the two little girls arm in arm! Just lovely, Vicki. Thanks.

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...


Merisi said...

A wonderful collection of family treasures!
Love the witty ending of your post,
memory is like a sieve at times. ;-)

I wonder how your wedding dresses are doing:
Would the fabric still hold up to being worn once more? I kept the white First Communion dress that all my girls wore, it's linen and cotton (from a store no longer in business, I.Magnin, infact I bought the rather expensive dress at their going-out-of business sale). Unfortunately, it is yellowing, even though I keep it in acid-free tissues.

There are very few really old mementoes of my family, World War II has swallowed most of what there ever was and after that it was mostly survival, nothing much left for keepsaking.

Vicki Lane said...

Victoria -- this is such a fun project -- and I had so much material to work with that I ended up making about half a dozen more for various family members.

Martin - how wonderful that you have the threshold -- such a potent symbol of years of coming and going!

Pat -- it has a spot in our living room -- I took it down to make a place for the Christmas tree and when I was putting it back, thought that it would make a good post.

Sounds like you have lots of material to work with, Liz! Editing is the hard part. I left out lots of interesting written material in favor of some objects to add visual interest.

Hey, Carol, good to see that you're up and about!

Merisi -- My mother and my grandmother's dresses are yellowing and fragile -- mine was professionally cleaned and sealed up -- and I haven't unsealed it. I offered it to a niece for her wedding but she didn't take me up on it so it remains sealed away.

Sad to think of losing mementos -- I have several friends who have lost them through house fires. I'm cheered to think that at least a lot of my photos are on line . . . as long as that endures.

Kaye Barley said...

Just beautiful, Vicki - as is the new picture at the top of your blog!!!

A couple years back I started scanning some wonderful old family photos to store on line and am in need to getting back to the project.

The photos I did do were the start of a photo webpage I set up and family members I had not seen in years were rediscovered. They loved being able to go on-line to see their family members, and some fun remembrances.

Miss_Yves said...

Great idea!

Reader Wil said...

This is a whole family history in a nutshell and very interesting to see the link between the letter from Gene to Fay, and their wedding invitation. It's food for a new book! Vicki, thanks for your visit and have a nice weekend!

Vicki Lane said...

Kaye -- now that's a terrific idea-- an on-line family album. I'd love to do that.

Thanks for stopping by, Miss Yves and Reader Wil!

Eliane Zimmermann said...

fabulous, i love this combination of old photographs and hand written letters/papers. how funny to posess so many wedding dresses. my mom and as far as i remeber old photographs also my garndmotthers married in black or greyish costumes. strange. now i wonder why. protestant habit? i didn't marry in church so i also only have a nice and warm costume as we married in the end of december. but the skirt is too tight, unfortunately.

maría cecilia said...

How nice and lovely Vicki, keeping your treasured memories displayed in that way, love, love, love it!!!!
Some day I´ll do the same, if you don´t mind, of course.
Muchos cariños,
Maria Cecilia
p.s. still to much snow out there??

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Eliane -- I don't think it's so much a protestant thing as as an Anerican/ British. I believe that Queen Victoria was the first to wear an all-white wedding dress and that's where the style began. In the US it's customary for many women -- Jew, Roman Catholic, Protestant, non-believer. And of course plenty get married in more ordinary clothes. But my wedding dress, like my mother's and probably my grandmother's was meant only for a wedding ceremony -- not something you'd wear to any other event. Pretty wasteful, actually, and if I were doing it over, I'd do differently.

Thank you, Maria Cecilia! The idea was certainly not original with me. But if you do make a shadow box I hope you will share it on your blog.

Fay said...

Vicki, What a treasure! w
Who are the two little girls holding hands?

Vicki Lane said...

Fay Parker on the left and Unknown on the right. Isn't that a gem of a picture!

Vicki Lane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jennyfreckles said...

What a lovely idea. Vicki, I like your blog on first looking at it - I look forward to having time to look through your past posts and to reading more in the future....

Vicki Lane said...

Welcome, Jenny Freckles! I enjoyed seeing a bit of Saltaire over at your place!

Tipper said...

A wonderful way to showcase all those precious momentos.

Vagabonde said...

This is a very good idea, and the box looks so enchanting. It is also good that you write the information on the pieces in the back of the box. I have several very old photographs, but I do not know who they are and the people who could tell me are gone.

Vicki Lane said...

I have lots of those old unidentified family photos -- and it reminds me of all the ones I've taken but never labeled.