My Roane County-born Grandmother kept things — things that didn’t make sense to me as a child. A silver spoon, wire threaded with stacks of fancy buttons, a gourd with a hole cut in it’s side and a loop of twine sticking out the stem end, and more.
Dad and Grandma in 1934.
As I have grown and aged, I more and more come to understand the things she saved.
Great-Grandmother Bird Wolfe Paxton in 1925.
When the gourd first came to me there was writing on the bulbous end. The writing said that the gourd was “given to Bird Paxton” (my Great-Grandmother) by an ‘Aunt’ who grew it in the 1860’s. As a younger woman I displayed the gourd on my kitchen wall for years. Sadly the writing faded and so has my recollection of the name of the ‘Aunt’ and the exact date it was grown and gifted.
This gourd was a drinking gourd that hung on a nail and was used by my Grandmother’s Mother to drink cool, clean water from the well. Keeping the gourd that touched her Mother’s lips so many times over so many years was obviously of great importance to her.
We have so many kitchen and household ‘toys’ and gadgets these days that it’s easy to never know (or just forget) what daily importance such a thing as a drinking gourd held well over 100 years ago. It was one less thing needing to be purchased. Making do with what could be grown or re-purposed. Gourds became drinking vessels, ladles, darning eggs for socks, birdhouses, musical instruments, rattles to keep babies occupied ….
So, now it’s me who keeps things–things that won’t seem to make sense either, but one day maybe someone will understand why I kept the things I chose to. Who I was and what was important to me? That it wasn’t the ‘things’ but the memories that they represent? Hmmmmm.
Well, I think I’ll start now by telling about the drinking gourd ……
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