Saturday, December 8, 2018

Hope chest


Mine's full of old records and winter sweaters.


My mother was given a Lane cedar chest upon graduation from high school by her parents. When mom married and moved in with my dad four years later, the chest came with her. Inside the chest were mementos from her high school years & from her time working as a stewardess for American Airlines. As a little girl, I remember being enchanted with her hope chest and its contents. I loved the smell of cedar and how everything in the chest seemed to be infused with it. My ritual was thus: I'd fiddle with the tassle on her mortarboard before putting it on. Then I'd thumb to all the pictures of mom in her yearbook (she was cast as the battle-axe mother-in-law in her high school production of Bye, Bye, Birdie! and looked very funny in a wig and fur coat). I'd also play with all the charms on her charm bracelet as if they were Monopoly pieces. There were also bits of fabric and some tulle in the chest, but I never figured out what they were for. Mom kept a pair of pale-pink pumps in the chest that I would wear around the living room, while pretending to be a grown-up. I remember about ten years ago mom saying that she'd like to give me her hope chest. Her husband told her not to. That was fine with me as it didn't seem she should be done with it quite yet.  


Just today I found a Lane chest at a second-hand shop in fairly good nick and bought it. It even came with a key for its wee lock. Check out the key's envelope. If only I could put a quarter in the mail in the hopes of receiving a replacement key should mine go missing! 



19 comments:

  1. I hope the chest you bought yourself was also cedar. Oh the smell...
    A replacement key for 25 cents? Oh wow.

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    1. Yes, it's much like mom's Lane chest. I'm quite happy with it. :)

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  2. A lovely chest and a lovely story about you playing with your mother's Hope Chest as a child.

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  3. We had a cedar chest which kept clothes smelling fragrant - supposed to be good against moths too. My favourite was a smaller chest made from sandalwood. That was wonderful.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, cedar is a good-smelling moth deterrent. Sandalwood is lovely as well. My mother used to have a small elephant bookmark carved from sandalwood.

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  4. I used to peruse my mother's Lane. There was a black silk nightgown that I never saw her wear.
    I was given my grandmother's rosewood cedar chest, key missing. It followed me for way more than fifty years. Just this year I gave it to the young assistant maintenance fellow. It was the mate to my grandmother's bed that I also gave him, for his son. I needed to make more efficient use of space. I look over where the chest used to be. I remember it, but don't miss it, though I regret that no child or grandchild wanted to take it.

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    1. It's nice to know that these items are able to be used and appreciated by a whole new generation. I've yet to find a taker for my great-grandmother's china. Most folk don't seem keen on inheriting things.

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  5. Is the company still around? I bet you could still get a replacement key, although not for 25 cents. How cool that you were able to find it.

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    1. I think that they are in some form or another. Yeah, second-hand shopping in San Jose yielded some good results!

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  6. Dear Bea, back in the 1940s and 1950s, it was very common for young girls graduating from high school to be given a cedar chest. It was called a hope chest because young girls "hoped" to fill it with all the linens they'd need when they got married and started a household.

    Most girls didn't get to go on to college; instead, they got jobs right away and started filling that hope chest with sheets and pillows and blankets and tea towels.

    When I visited friends during the years after graduation they would show me--with great proud and delight--what they had added to their hope chest. Thank you for bringing these memories back to me. What fun your mom's cedar chest gave to you! Peace.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the tradition continued into my mom's baby-boomer generation as well. Because you attended university, was a hope chest not a part of your entree into young adulthood?

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    2. Dear Bea, I had no plans to marry after high school and did go on the college. I still could have had a hope chest and left it at home during those four years, but we had little money and our relatives didn't have much either, so the luggage to take to college was my graduation gift from all of them. It was Samsonite, which was sort of the best at the time, and I felt so sophisticated when I got on the train with my suitcase and went off to college. Peace.

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    3. -very thoughful gift to you.

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    4. Yes. And Mom and Dad and the extended family had to dig deep to afford the set. I was the first in the large Irish family to go off to college and everyone was so proud. I didn't need such a fine set, but in their minds that's what a young woman should have if she were to be college-educated. They all loved me so much. Peace.

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  7. I love the smell of cedar as well. We all could use a little more hope these days. Maybe hope chests are the answer.

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  8. That is so neat; I used to do the same when I was a little girl. We have the Lane chest now, and every now and again I enjoy going through it. Yes, and even after all these years I can still smell the cedar. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Sally! How wonderful that you inherited a Lane chest. The smell of cedar really brings one back, doesn't it?

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