Friday, May 22, 2020

Old Treasures

Like many, I'm handling the pandemic by tackling old projects that have been on the back-burner for years. Like cleaning the basement. A chore I planned to do a decade ago but always found excuses to avoid. Sometimes, however, these projects turn out to be fun and not drudgery. While sorting through old things we can discover treasures. I did this morning.

Buried under piles of crap, there was an old steamer trunk. I wasn't sure where it came from or what, if anything, was in it. So I pulled it out and opened it up. Wow!

The trunk was full of vintage stuffed animals and toys from a half-century ago. They belong to Maura, my first girlfriend, who loved them when she was little. Pictures are below. I alerted Maura to the find and offered to send them to her. She replied I can continue to store them, which I will, only now I'll store them out in the open instead of hidden away. Since Maura is 63, these delightful items are at least a half-century old.

One that really appeals to me is a doll make of cloth attached to a round wooden box. Inside the doll is a wooden dowel which lets you raise the doll up and down -- including into the round box where it completely disappears as the cloth scrunches together. What a fun toy!

Also of note is the trunk itself. I asked Maura where it came from and she said it was her grandmother's. Which dates it accurately: steamer trunks were built and used from 1880 to 1920. Maura's mother was old when she got her (40-ish) so Maura's grandmother lived during that period. That makes the trunk over a century old.

The trunk, despite its age, is beautiful. It's made of pine wood with metal clasps and hardware. The wood was originally covered with canvas, some of which is still there as parts have fallen off. Most of the leather straps have disintegrated.

Steamer trunks were not just intended for travel, they were used as containers for objects after arrival. Given their decorative beauty, that makes sense. One reason I pulled this trunk out of storage was to consider displaying it prominently in my future playhouse. Now I certainly will.

What's in your basement?!


  1. No true basement at my house. I did just go through some boxes my folks left here about 10 years ago and found a bunch of old Halloween costumes. Total blast from the past!

  2. I'm sorry, but that mouse toy is 100% Nightmare Fuel, Ally, ha ha!

    Some of those toys look very well-loved. I'm glad you're taking them out and giving them life again. :) I love steamer trunks - when I worked in the year-round Christmas store back in the 80s/90s, we used a few steamer trunks as display items, so I'm happy to hear you'll be using yours too. They make great end tables.

    No basement in my condo, but I know there are some Boxes of Mystery in our hall closet that haven't been looked at in a couple of decades - my childhood and teenage diaries are in there.

  3. Ooh, how exciting! I have to agree with Sheila, though, that that mouse is the stuff of nightmares! xxx

  4. Maura's Trunk of Treasures was such Fun to find! I'm surprised she detached from it all enough to let it go and enjoy a New Home Forever. I'm glad you appreciate the contents and the Trunk enough to Display it all too, after so long of being entombed. During our Big Move I did discover a whole lot I didn't even remember having. Before that, when we moved from the Historic Home, we discovered things that had come with the Property that we didn't discover during our 15 years of living there! Very telling about how much I didn't explore every nook and cranny. This new Forever Home was different in that there was really no hidden Surprises, since it had been remodeled within the past 5 Years. But now I'm unpacking again, I'm discovering objects all over again... and especially during Pandemic Boredom Moments! Be Well and Stay Safe!

  5. All i have is my mom's "hat box" (mementos and keepsakes that used to be stored in 3 actual hat boxes that outgrew them after i inherited them. They now live in a sturdier rubbermaid container).

    It's usually a yearly occurence, sorting through it. I find something different every time. Now living with my dad, pictures and items get history as he clarifies the stories I don't know and didn't get from mom.

    I've added some of Jonathan's family history to it to. One of my few regrets of not having children is not having someone to pass the history on to.

    I'm pretty minimalistic due to apartment living and no storage.

    I have been accomplishing things not otherwise handled before the pandemic. Im about to go back to the mechanic for the 3rd time. I ended up at the dentist. Areas of the apartment are getting deep cleans. I've made crafts. I have a painting planned. Granted a lot of those things were due to my hand being forced, but I'm grateful to be able to handle all of it without losing on work (because im not there to begin with) or having to conform to a daily schedule with my current level of insomnia.

    Trying to find the silver linings is hard right now, but there are a few.

    1. Yay, for Rubbermaid containers!

      Don't worry about not having kids: you'll have plenty of your friends' children to spoil with gifts. I've already started giving cherished mementos away and will continue to do so. Picking the right kid for the right gift is better than giving something to a child who couldn't care less.

      I'm happy for your silver linings.

    2. Yeah. I've joked a time or two that I want to skip the parent bit and be a grandparent. All the spoiling, none of the rearing. Maybe just a good crazy aunt. ;P

  6. What an incredible - and very precious - time capsule.

    As you might imagine, knowing my penchant and passion for the past, this post immediately struck a chord with me, Ally.

    Thank you - and Maura - for sharing the contents of this wonderfully sweet and special trunk.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. You're welcome. One reason we make such good friends is we both appreciate the past.

  7. What a great find! I'm so glad you rescued the trunk and the plushies, they are too cute! Our building has a basement but there's nothing down there except rat and roach traps, ugh.

  8. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, that is so exciting! You found a treasure chest!!! I adore the trunk! This would make a very good coffee table! We wanted something like that when we were looking for a double function coffee table originally!
    How lovely that you found Maura's toys!