Friday, 18 May 2012

Great Grandma's Wicker Basket

The notebook had written inside it, “Edwin Lord, A present from his brother Ira on his 12th birthday, 31 March 1877.”    I  had looked at this book many times and had not even noticed the writing.  I investigated further and found a lock of hair in the back of the book.  It was gold in colour and most definitely belonged to Edwin Lord’s wife Mary Meng as we had another lock of her hair somewhere else.

One day I went to see my Grandma and told her about the book.  Then I asked her to get out the old wicker basket which used to belong to my Great Grandma.  We went out to the garage where Grandma kept it.  I lifted it inside and we looked at the contents.  On top was an old children’s book from 1922.  It can’t have been Great Grandma’s as she was born in 1900 and would have been 22 at the time.  It may have been Grandma’s, as she was born in 1928.  We put it aside and looked further.  There were a lot of clothes in there including an old men’s shirt worn in the 1920’s, probably by my Great Grandfather.  It was cream (probably discoloured with age) and had no collar.  The collar was also in the basket.  It was very stiff and did up over the top of the shirt.  We also found an old pin stripe waistcoat which was blue and white.  It too could have been my Great Grandfather's.  There was a pair of enormous bloomers and a black lace piece of material which had a white frill around the neck.  It somehow did up in an awkward fashion around the woman’s neck and arms and formed part of her Victorian dress, where no flesh showed.  It reminded me of what step mother Mrs Potts used to wear in all those old photos.  She always wore dark colours.  Mary Lord (née Meng) inherited some of her step mother's things along with her two sisters Kate and Emma, so it could possibly have been hers.  Then again it could have belonged to Mary, who also wore that attire in her younger days.

Also in the wicker basket were numerous boxes.  One was made of a red velvety material with fancy metal corners and centre which were inset into the fabric.  Inside there was a whole lot of army badges and beads and a broach.  The army badges where likely to be from a friend that Great Grandma had during the war, named Frank McKenzie.  She wrote to him and we always thought he didn’t come back alive but have since found out he survived the war and died in 1974.  There was a silver cupie doll which was all dented and black with grime.  Grandma wanted to know how old it was, so I took it home to Mum who would eventually take it to the jewellers.  It was an ugly looking thing with an awful face.  Almost evil looking.  Grandma found a piece off a watch chain which was engraved.  It belonged to Edwin Lord and was given to him for service on the Dairy Board Executive from 1917-1924.  I also found a scrap of newspaper with a poem on it about The Ohoka Motor Brigade.  Edwin Lord was one of the first men in Ohoka to get a model Ford T.  Edwin Lord, Mr Begg and Mr Walker got their cars off the same shipment to New Zealand.  It was so exciting to find the poem as Great Grandma had recited it one day in her 90s. 

There were also three fans in the basket.  One was an ancient silk fan with flowers and a man bowing to a woman.  It was made of bone and silk, and looked very old.  Another fan was hidden in a metal tube.  You took the fan out and fitted it into the metal tube so it became the handle for the fan.  The third fan was a beautiful one made of  paper and bamboo.  I took it home for Mum to hang on the wall.  It was blue with pink flowers on it in different shades.

The basket itself is still in excellent condition and is probably very old.  It was fun to see what Great Grandma had hoarded over the years. If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have all these antique objects and my interest in the family tree wouldn't have been sparked.  The stash of old family photos was also extensive and photos from the 1860s onwards have added mystery to my life.  Like a detective I've managed to piece together what happened in the past and where my family have come from.

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