Fearless Females (Day 6): One Fine Day …

I remember Mum telling my siblings and I that the fine lace tablecloth she put out every Christmas, had once belonged to her grandmother, Eva Clarke (WILSON) ATKINSON.  

It was given to Eva on her wedding day from her mother, Isabella (CLARKE) WILSON — Isabella had brought it with her, during the overseas voyage to Canada with her husband and young family.  Isabella’s husband was Henry Orr WILSON; and a certified copy of their marriage certificate hangs in my genealogy office.

I remember my sister looking over the fine-thread lacework with her mouth wide open, she was in awe.  

My only thought, when I looked at it, was a question: if it got dirty, where would it go?  Our washing machine would tear it to shreds.  I didn’t even consider hand-washing it … really, how many boys my age (10yo) would have thought of that?

Another object that Mum took particular care of was a small glass bowl with a matching lid. The bowl had two small loop handles on opposing sides of it.  It looked like a tiny soup bowl, but Mum insisted it was meant for sugar and not made of glass but of crystal.

The sugar bowl had belonged to Isabella’s mother, Mrs. John CLARKE, whatever her name was prior to that, no one seems to know.

I then interrogated Mum as to how Isabella got it, she didn’t know.

“Your Grams never told me,” was her reply.

“How did you get it?” I continued.  Mum looked as me oddly and smiled.

“I stole it from my mother, Officer,”  she laughed as my eyes grew wide. “Grams gave it to me for my 16th birthday, telling me to put it away in my Hope chest.”

I must have looked confused at her answer, just then because she elaborated a little further.

“Grams got it from her mother, Eva when Eva died.  It was left to her in Eva’s will along with the lace tablecloth.”

My mother looked at me, expecting another barrage of questions, and realized my expression had not changed.

“What’s wrong, Sweetie?” she asked with a hint of worry.

“Something you said.”

She stopped setting the dinner table and had my undivided attention. “Did I say something to upset you? I’m sorry, Hon.”

“No, something else,” I answered, as we parted from one of her famous comforting hugs. “What’s a Hope chest?”



    1. Thank you, Mariann. I found it interesting with the priceless value my mother gave these items that she still continued to use them, not afraid that they might get ruined or dropped and then shatter upon the hardwood floor. Your welcome. </;)


  1. Nice story. You must be a fair bit younger than me and/or it’s a female vs male thing not to know about the hope chest.

    Isn’t it interesting that we all have these stories about the items handed down from one generation to the next through the females of the family but fewer memories of what the males passed down? Is this perhaps because the majority of items that women cherished were the ones that were always shared with others such as the tablecloth, the handled bowl, et al??


    1. As for being younger than you are, Dearie, perhaps. Just perhaps.

      This story was my introduction to what hope chests were and why young girls had them. Strangely, I do not recall my sister having one; nor my wife telling me that she had one … did they fall out of favour with our generation?

      When my father passed away in 2003, I returned home with a few things to remember him by. One of the items I gave to my second son, “Captain.” It was a t-shirt depicting Prime Minister Churchill during WWII and his famous “We will never surrender” paragraph. He had it shadow-boxed, and it hangs over his dresser in his bedroom.


  2. Some of us are just old souls, old at heart, or were those odd little kids who really listened to our elders,,,even when we didnt really understand what they were talking about !
    I graduated from high school in 1979 …very small town…and the local furniture store (a Lane dealer) gave each girl in our class a mini cedar hope chest…a promo item to lure us in to buy a full sized one to “hope on.”
    Also…LOVE the “temporary image” hilarious!


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