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Slice of Life Sunday: Gone but Not Forgotten

April 30, 2008

SOL Participant 2

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode .


I have received such joy from all the slice of life stories written by friends I have made here in blogsville. I have also become inspried to write more of my own. I would like to share the following Slice of Life based on the prompt: Family Heirloom.
Gone But Not Forgotten

I find myself watching less and less of television each year. I think the invasion of the “reality television” was the turning point for this TV couch potato. I do enjoy a good movie and of course the do-it-yourself home improvement and landscaping shows. I am also fascinated by the Antique Road Show. Having collected a few antiques over the years, bargain pieces found at garage sales, flea markets and auctions, I so love to watch someone be surprised to learn that an item purchased for a few dollars many years ago because it caught their eye is now worth thousands. My absolute favorite is when someone brings a family heirloom passed down through the generations “just to see what it is worth.” I know it sounds silly, but I find myself waiting, and hoping, to hear the magical words after being informed of a very high value, “That’s nice, but I wouldn’t sell this for any amount of money. There is too much sentimental value that money can’t buy.” I believe placing sentimental value above monetary value is as real as it gets.


I have one such sentimental item that has been in our family for over 100 years but was only recently discovered. It had been packed away for more than thirty years, long ago forgotten, and probably not worth more than a twenty-dollar bill today. But to me, it is priceless. It is my grandmother’s washboard.


Like most farm women of my grandmother’s day, Gramma Lily was a stranger to modern conveniences. She bore thirteen children over a period of twelve years – all single births. All food served at the family table was raised on the farm and cooked on a wood-burning stove. My father remembers her making six loaves of bread every morning, seven days a week. She made her own butter and her own noodles. Gramma Lily canned all her fruit, vegetables and most of their meat. They did have a smokehouse, which was primarily used for the hams, venison and groundhogs. A cellar would be stocked with potatoes and apples. She made soap from wood ashes and fat left over from butchering hogs and cattle. This soap was used for bathing in a tub in the kitchen, with each sibling taking their turn before the water got too cold or too dirty. Of course the water had to be carried in from the well and heated on the stove, after the wood had been cut to build the fire to heat the water. When I think of everything my grandmother had to do to just feed and bath her family, and granted child labor was definitely in great supply and readily utilized, it just boggles my mind that in the midst of all this, she also had laundry day using a single washboard and a tub for a family of fifteen.


For a brief time after making its discovery, I had Gramma Lilly’s washboard displayed on the wall above my washer and dryer. The washboard was actually a hand-me-down from her mother. It clearly shows the wear from all the blue jeans, coveralls and flannel shirts being scrubbed clean with the lye soap she made. I have a very vivid memory of helping gramma scrub grampa’s coveralls on that washboard, then labor over wringing the water out by hand – first twisting them one way and then the other while I held one end – and then hang them on the clothesline to dry. I remember how red her hands were that day and how wrinkled they were years later. I am sure the two were related.


I now have gramma’s washboard hidden away. I have two sisters who seem to have forgotten the phrase finder’s keepers. To be honest, if I truly believed either of them had more of a sentimental value of the washboard than I do, I would gladly give it to them. But I have seen both of them sell, at garage sales no less, pieces that “they absolutely had to have for sentimental reasons” after the passing of various members of our family. For me, the memory value of those pieces far outweighed any monetary value they received and quickly spent.

Gramma Lilly’s washboard will forever be mine. I believe memories are the reality of a time gone by, and to sell a memory is like selling a piece of your soul.








7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2008 1:44 am

    Cricket, I enjoyed reading your post today. It brings back memories for me, too. I remember all taking a bath in the same water, ugh, seems so nasty today doesn’t it? I remember my Mom making her own soap and washing on a wringer type washing machine and hanging clothes out to dry. Thanks for sharing this.

    ~~Hi Betty, ahhh, yes I remember my mom having a wringer washer too. My younger sister got her hand and upper arm caught in the wringers – I had forgotten about that until I read your comment. Cricket

  2. morgansvoice permalink
    May 1, 2008 9:31 am

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    ~~Hey Morgan – how is Florida! Thanks for taking time to visit! Cricket

  3. klmram permalink
    May 2, 2008 11:54 am

    Lovely story and I completely agree with you! It is a shame that they sold so many of those “memories”/heirlooms.

  4. May 2, 2008 10:04 pm

    I never did last week’s prompts, never did anything..LOL
    I enjoyed this and I’m glad I got to stop by. My dad says washboards are worth something. He LOVES antiques and owns an antique store. You should look into it, you never know. Then again, from what you’ve written here, it doesn’t matter, it’s already priceless 😀

  5. May 3, 2008 2:55 am

    What a wonderful heirloom. It is definitely priceless. It is amazing to think how hard our ancestors worked just to get food on the table and keep clothes clean. We are spoilt now and we don’t even know it. This was a brilliant post!

  6. May 3, 2008 8:13 am

    What a wonderful story! I think you should keep your grandmother’s old washboard for sure! One thing I value that belonged to my grandma is a cast iron hot plate with the words “Ve grow too soon old undt to lat schmart”. My grandma and I used to laugh over that thing. It’s not worth money but it’s value is priceless.

  7. May 3, 2008 8:15 am

    What a wonderful story! I think you should keep your grandmother’s old washboard for sure! One thing I value that belonged to my grandma is a cast iron hot plate with the words “Ve grow too soon old undt to lat schmart”. My grandma and I used to laugh over that thing. It’s not worth money but it’s value is priceless.

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