ARTIFACTS

I have many objects or artifacts (as I like to call them) that I acquired from my mother and father.

There are the intangible things, of course… superstitions, beliefs, love of nature, a sense of art, spiritual guidance, love of family, and… from my mother, a love of shoes and purses!

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As I was preparing supper one evening, (yes, I call it supper) and browning some chicken, I remembered all the meals mom made in the old aluminum kettle, I was now putting to use. Back when she acquired it, aluminum was all the rage. It was so much lighter in weight than the cast iron pots and pans she’d been used to, and it made cooking a little easier. She made hundreds of soup recipes in that old kettle. Oyster stew, tomato soup, potato soup, boiled potatoes, green beans…I could go on and on.

Each time I use it, I think of mom and imagine her standing over her Tappan Range, preparing a meal.

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The colander was a familiar utensil used mainly during summer months when tomatoes were plump and ripe. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many quarts of tomato juice, and canned tomatoes that woman made during her lifetime. But, I do know that this humble colander was involved in all of it! I’d stand by her side, and rotate the wooden handle around-and-around until the juice was squeezed from the tomatoes and all that was left, was the bright red pulp.

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Pies were the pride of any farm-wife’s culinary repertoire, and my mom was no exception. This rolling-pin flattened many crusts under her skilled hands. Crusts that would cradle Cherry, apple, custard, apricot, blackberry, peach, and rhubarb fruit pies or puddings pies were a result of this wooden wonder!

Homemade noodle dough was rolled out, to go with a tasty chicken or beef stew. I don’t know who invented this wonderful kitchen tool, but it was genius. Wait…this might help…

According to historical records, many ancient civilizations used round pieces of wood (probably branches with the bark removed) to flatten, or smash or crush their different types of food. The old saying is true, “There is nothing new under the sun”! They also used hardened clay, and glass bottles. Obviously, the glass bottles came later. Regardless of the raw material used, it would have been an antique form of a pin compared to what we now have.   http://pioneerthinking.com/cooking/little-known-facts-and-other-uses-for-rolling-pins

Mom never chased my dad with it…as far as I know!

Under the rolling-pin is a tea towel that mom embroidered—one of the last she attempted. Her eyes weren’t as sharp and her hands not as steady as they’d once been, but she tackled a few for me and my sis, anyway.

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You probably wonder why I included the painted pheasant. Well, mom loved to draw and paint, but farm life didn’t exactly offer much time for such hobbies. But, when her schedule permitted, she enjoyed painting figurines. This was a popular pastime for her during the fifties and sixties. And it filled up the long winter days and nights. I believe she even took a class once or twice.

My cousin, Evelyn, owned a little craft shop in Wayland, Iowa, and mom would get many of her supplies there. I looked forward to the trips to Wayland…it gave me a chance to see her daughter, and my cousin, Lucy. I remember my mother tediously painting the feathers on this plaster likeness of my dad’s favorite game-bird.

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My dad always wore a cap or hat of some kind. Since there wasn’t a cab on his tractor, he needed the protection that a cap provided. He owned many that displayed logos of seed corn companies, implements dealers, or other products used by farmers. An avid hunter, Pheasants Forever was something dad was passionate about… providing crop-cover for pheasants, and other game-birds was dear to his heart.

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This shaving cup and brush was my dads. He used it everyday before he latched onto the more modern shaving creams in canisters.

The brush has been permanently shaped and formed from my dad’s hand. He’d swirl it…getting as much of the barber soap as possible on the brush. I loved to watch him as he’d wet the brush, dab, and circle the bristles around the Old Spice cup. Then he’d skillfully lather his face to get just the right amount on his day-old stubble.

Up-and-down he’d move the brush, along his cheeks, under his chin, then under his nose, and finally his neck. Drawing the razor skillfully across his face, he’d rinse each swipe from the blade and continue with the task of shaving.

Sometimes I’d hear him blurt an expletive, then leave the bathroom with the telltale patches of toilet paper attached where he’d nicked his face.

Seeing him use an electric razor in later years, just wasn’t the same.

The old cup now sits in my bathroom and I think of him whenever I pass by.

These items are but the physical things that remind me of my parents, but they give me warm feelings when I look at them and remember who used them. I can smell the steeping tomatoes, the aroma of a fresh blackberry pie.

I can feel the steam rising-up from the hot water in our bathroom sink as dad softened his whiskers.

I’m a sucker for old things…I love history and remembering.

I wonder what artifacts my kids and grandkids might latch onto?

Passing it on….

KRE

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