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Jan 11

Using Family Heirlooms

Pete Miller's Trunk

Pete Miller’s Trunk

I have acquired a few family heirlooms over the years and I dearly treasure them. Some are packed away but I try to keep as many as I can out for display. I even use some of them regularly.

Pete Miller’s old trunk is in our basement. Pete (1878-1957) was my granduncle, the son of Jacob Miller and his second wife Margaretha Strabel. Pete carved Pete Miller, Willshire, Ohio into the wood on the front of the turn-of-the-century trunk.

We hosted the Bennetts on Christmas Day so I tried to have a nice holiday display that included some of my family’s old treasures. I opened up Pete Miller’s old trunk and filled it with toys. It looked right at home between the Christmas tree and the fireplace.

Pete Miller's old trunk, Christmas 2012.

Pete Miller’s trunk, Christmas 2012.

I was pleased with the way the trunk looked and I showed a photo of it to one of my co-workers. I was taken aback when she said, “Look at that old toy top!” (Emphasis on the word old.) Old! Seriously? I received that toy top one year for Christmas. I remember it well. As it spun around the colors ran together and it made a whistling sound. It is not that old! Really.

We rarely use our fireplace in the basement and the inside of it looked rather bare. I recalled that we had an electric log set in our fireplace at home when I was little. I enjoyed watching the revolving light move and glow like real flames of a fire. A couple years ago I asked my parents if they still had those electric logs. They did and they gave them to me. The motor still runs and now we have a “fire” in our fireplace. It actually looks better than the log sets I see in stores today. It must be over 50 years old, just like my old toy top. I am so grateful that my parents saved just about everything.

Old electric fireplace logs.

Old electric fireplace logs.

We found this nice old primitive cupboard while cleaning out the Miller barn this past summer. We believe that my grandfather Carl Miller made it and they used it in their utility room. Now it is in our basement, housing other family heirlooms.

Cupboard that Carl Miller probably made.

Cupboard that Carl Miller made.

I remember the plates we used every day when I was growing up and hoped to include them in my collection of family heirlooms. I could picture the roses around the rim and I asked my mom if she remembered them, too. And if she still had any of them. Sadly, she said that none of them had survived. However, she did have some accessory pieces that were not often used. She still had a pitcher, a sugar and creamer, a platter and a couple serving dishes. Maybe some of you remember the Priscilla pattern from the Household Institute that was popular back in the 50s. I was able to find  and acquire a couple of the matching plates from eBay. These dishes bring back memories of our family meals.

Platter, Household Institute, Priscilla Pattern.

Platter, Household Institute, Priscilla Pattern.

From time to time I will share some of the other ways I use our family heirlooms.

7 comments

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  1. Carol Piper

    Very nice, thanks for sharing! Your house sounds like my house with my and husband Marty’s grandmothers and greatgrandmothers china and furniture. My adult kids don’t show too much interest in it, but my 8 year old grandaughter does, which makes me very happy.

    P.S. Your toy top is not old!

    1. Karen

      Isn’t is nice having those family items around to bring back fond memories? It sounds as though you enjoy that as much as I do. Your are right–the top is not old! :)

  2. Kate Eichler

    Hi, Thanks for sharing your talent for decorating, I especially liked how you used the old trunk to display some of your heirlooms, also I remember that old cupboard that Dad had made, I think it was painted green, but not sure and it was used in the utility room. I don’t always post comments, but I really enjoy these articles you write. You have many talents and writing is one of them. Wishing for you and Joe a very Happy and Healthy 2013. Love, Aunt Kate

    1. Karen

      Thanks! I love that tall primitive cupboard that Grandpa made. You and Kelly both remember that it was in the utility room, although I did not see any green paint on it. I’ll have to look again. These items are nice to have around and they bring back such fond memories.

  3. Kate Eichler

    I was probably wrong abouit the green paint, if it had been you or your Mom would have been the ones to remove it. Back in those days seemed they painted much of the furniture. I stayed up until midnight going over some of your older posts, I really enjoyed the comments and responses from other people I always read the articals when you first post them but don’t always go back and read the comments people leave, and they prove to be very intersting and informative. Kate

  4. Fran Ellsworth

    First, Happy Blogiversary!
    Second, I have a question. I am including a link to a post on my blog to explain why I ask. Is your electric fireplace in Chicago? Was it from the 1920 -1930 era?
    http://branchingoutthroughtheyears.blogspot.com/2011/01/sharing-slice-of-life-family-business.html
    Fran.

    1. Karen

      Thank you! And thank you for sending the link to your blog. What a great story about the electric fireplace. What I have is a set of logs with a revolving red/orange cylinder around a light that is behind the logs. When plugged in it casts a moving light that resembles a flickering fire. We just set the electric logs in our “real” fireplace. The logs are from the late 50s and it really does look like a fire. We are in Ohio. I wonder if any of the electric fireplaces you describe still exist?

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