"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Old things

My grandmother used to have an old settee, covered in sturdy oxblood-red material, as they were when she was young. It was a beautiful piece of furniture, heavy, well crafted, and perfect for sitting and reading away an afternoon! When she went into a nursing home, I had hoped to rescue the settee, but alas! it went, along with everything else, to an unknown buyer! Ever since, I have loved old things. The only mementos I have from my grandmother are a pair of silver serving spoons, which I polish sometimes, and I think of her. Back in the early 80s, after I came to Australia, we didn't have much furniture, so second-hand shops were a popular destination for some years, before trash 'n treasure turned into 'antiques'! We had less money in those days, but somehow managed to collect a few pieces. An old pine dresser, a mahogany chest of drawers, and Wayne had his grandfather's chair and cedar table, and his mum's piano. The only new furniture we ever bought was a lounge suite, and the cats soon made sure it had a fashionably 'distressed' look!
Antiques and collectables shops are still favourite haunts, and I find the old things so much more interesting than new ones. An old teddy with torn ears and matted fur tells me about a child's love for it's toy, and a polished gramophone conjures images of 1920's flappers dancing to old music hall tunes. And who wouldn't like an old, well-loved and cared-for quilt for their bed?! The stories behind old things can be fascinating. One example is a necklace my mother had, a lovely red gold one with drops of blood red garnets. While she was working in Germany as a translator for the Americans after WW2, an older man came in for interviewing. He carried a small suitcase and asked my mother if she would look after it while he was being interviewed. She agreed, and when he left, he opened the suitcase. It was stuffed full of jewellery, and he pulled out the necklace and gave it to Mum, thanked her politely and disappeared. Who knows where all that came from?
Who can resist the soft glow of old, polished timber, the familiar creak of an old chair, or the rustle of antique lace? Old things engage our senses and stimulate the imagination. They may be rickety, old, maybe even faulty, but I fancy the previous owners might be pleased their old treasures are still appreciated. Speaking of old things, must go say hi to DH....


  1. Lovely post, Donna. My family left all their material possessions in China so I've always wished I could inherit any "old" things of theirs. I especially love the story of the necklace.

  2. i still have an old washing stick that used to belong to a pioneering old maid, who was one of our neighbors. It's almost like that stick comes with it's own spirit. Great write up; you are good.

  3. Thanks!! :-)
    I think old things will appear here regularly. Objects are so transient; I treasure the ones I inherited, but who will love my treasures after I'm gone? Best to recycle them to someone who likes them too. And you're right, Calfay, some things are so rich with history, they do have a 'spirit' or 'feeling' about them!