Writing Prompt: Everything Has A Story

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What’s the oldest thing in your house? What kind of story would it tell?


32 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Everything Has A Story

  1. Probably a 10×14 piece of marquetry depicting the Château de Chillon in Switzerland. Belonged to my grandfather, Diederik Van Hoff, a building contractor in the Paterson, N.J. area. Received as a gift or memento from a lumber supply company. It could probably tell a story about working conditions of the people who crafted such objects around the time of the famous Paterson Silk Strike in 1913 (which also plays a role in Amy Stewart’s _Girl Waits with Gun_). Or might tell stories about the lives of religiously conservative Dutch immigrant families, stories it would have observed while hanging on the wall.

    • That Sounds like a gorgeous work of art, Eric! And think of the stories related to the castle itself—didn’t it start out as a Roman outpost? Thanks for visiting us today!

  2. I have a very small diamond that came over with my Czech great-grandmother in the 1880s. It was the only thing of value she brought. She and her husband to-be ran away from her parents who said he wasn’t good enough for her — he was a stocking-maker and she came from an educated family. They were married when they got to America — I don’t know why they weren’t married before leaving Europe. That might be part of their story. Or the fact that no matter how poor they were, the diamond was never sold.

    • That’s an intriguing family story, Laurie. Hopefully they were all reconciled in later years!

      • No, my great-grandparents never went back–too poor. And the great-greats never came over. Czechs have a tendency to be stubborn.

  3. More Dutch immigrant history. I have two Psalters, one in English, published in 1914, that was given to my dad for Christmas in 1929 and the other, quite a bit older, in Dutch, that uses the old, non-metric music notation. My grandma told many stories about hardship and poverty in the Netherlands–she was put out to work at age 7– and of trying to survive on a small farm in northern Michigan. I grew up hearing these psalms and they’re still my favorite music.

    • Age seven, wow! No wonder they left. I’m sure Northern Michigan in the winters was also incredibly grueling. Strong people, your family!

  4. On the bookshelf in our living room sits a small, pale green, 1884 book of Keats poetry. It was a wedding gift from Silas Jones to his bride, Martha Jones, when they married in California in the late 19th Century. The cover is textured and worn thin at the edges, cracked and peeling in places. Well loved.

    When Alaska became a state, Silas moved his family up there for an adventurous life. (He became a logger.) Martha brought the book with her. An older friend of mine who knew the Joneses bought the book at their estate sale in the 1960s. My friend gave it to me as a college graduation gift in the 1980s. When I hold it it’s like there’s an electrical buzz and I can feel Silas and Martha’s love for each other seeping out from the pages.

    Or the darn thing is haunted.

    • A logger who gave Keats to his bride, wowza! Major romantic story there, especially set against the wilds of Alaska. Thanks for sharing that story, Priscilla!

  5. My grandmother’s old steamer trunk that she used to move from England to America to live with her aunt. (She was an illegitimate child, and her chances for a good marriage were poor.) Her uncle became infatuated with her. They left behind his wife (her aunt) and his four children to run away with her to Canada. He had four more children, and he named them identical to the first four. His second batch of children (that included my mother) didn’t learn about the first batch until they were in their 50s.

  6. Okay so I think the oldest things in my house are a pair of medieval swords, paired with a damascene shield as a wall display. (I have a feeling their stories would be tales “blood, guts, and glory”, lol. )

  7. I have the 1873 model Colt Peacemaker .45 caliber pistol that belonged to my great grandfather, Isaac (Ike) Gilstrap, a deputy U.S. Marshal in the Oklahoma Territory. He was killed in the line of duty on March 12, 1906–shot through the left eye–by a member of the Wickliffe gang, which Ike was pursuing for the murder of Deputy Marshal J.H. Vier. We actually have a copy of the 1906 Marshal’s Service investigation into Ike’s murder.

    According to family lore, Ike carved the X in the steel beneath a trigger guard with barbed wire to mark the occasion when he outdrew and killed a man named Wattenbarger while serving a warrant.

    I inherited the pistol from my father, who inherited it from his. Dad told me that he never fired it, and didn’t think his father had fired it, either. Certainly, I have not. That means that every time I hold the well-worn grips, I’ve got a direct connection to my past. Pretty cool.

  8. I no longer have it, but I did have my great-great-grandfather’s Kiowa calendar–the Aunko Calender.

    The Kiowas kept dates by the year–not the year determined by the Gregorian Calendar, but by the most memorable event of the year. The year 1833 was the year of the infamous Cutthroat Massacre, when the Kiowas were attacked by the Osages and many women and children were mutilated and even decapitated. The event is recorded on the Aunko calendar by small paintings done by my great-great-grandfather showing those things. The calendar was recorded on buffalo hide. It is a sad memory, as one might expect.

    Interestingly enough, the event is recorded in the Year the Stars Fell. This event was recorded by most Plains tribes on their various calendars, showing the presence of the Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833 to 1834.

    Tensions between the two tribes were lessened a year later when a captive of the Osages was returned alive, and a medicine bundle was released back to the Kiowa for the price of a horse.

    • Your comment summons up a sense of an entire culture and history that sounds absolutely fascinating, Jim. Thanks for sharing that!

  9. My family bible is from the 1600’s. All the marriages, births, and deaths (and a few divorces) within my family line are recorded. The spine is falling apart, so I store it in a safe place away from moisture and heat. It’s a treasured family heirloom. I also have antique glass photographs of my ancestors, which are also pretty cool. Growing up, I always heard I could be the twin of my great, great, great Aunt Hat, so it was especially fun to find her photograph. Together they tell the story of my family.

    • Wow, Sue! Are you the current “recorder of record” for updating the Bible these days with recent family additions/marriages/offspring?

      • I sure am. Which reminds me, I need to add our grandson. He’s almost one years old and hasn’t made the list yet. I try to add a photo of each event, as well as prayer cards from funerals. Between the folds are several dried flowers from before my time. It’s amazing they haven’t disintegrated.

  10. When I went to visit my cousin in California a few years ago, we went thrift shopping in some quaint out of the way thrift stores. I came across an old illustrated copy of Little Women dated 1926. I only paid $5.00 for it! 🙂

    • GREAT find, Rebecca! I’ll bet the illustrations are wonderful. Thanks for dropping in!

  11. The oldest thing in my house is… my house~ been in my wife’s since it was built in 1830~ a small shotgun/foursquare structure that had Yankees in the dooryard just after the Battle of Atlanta, saw biplanes make the approach to Candler Field (now Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport), and sheltered more dogs and cats than we all have fingers to count ’em on.
    I’m sure there are more than a few “if these walls could talk” stories – some of ’em true, too~!

    • Should be “…since my wife’s family since it was built…”
      *sigh* 😐

      • 1830? That’s amazing, George! That must even pre-date Underground Atlanta, era-wise. I remember “shotgun” houses from growing up in the South. Classic Southern house style!

  12. When Pinckney and I married, we moved to his family’s dairy farm in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. We had a big house to fill and very little cash, so I prowled junk and antique stores. One of our treasures is a gate-leg dining table that was handmade in 1825. The table sits eight people very comfortably. The two wings are 48″x 24″ single pieces of walnut. It must have been a sizable tree.

  13. My deceased mother’s Hope Chest. Remember those? Even in an aged state every time the lid was open you could smell cedar. so many memories and old photographs, including a size 5 wedding dress (mom was tiny). An old tradition no longer practiced in today’s times….makes me wonder if we’ve lost something precious…..

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