It was that letter that caught my eye first. Walking down the isle in the thrift store I saw rows of grab bags lining one wall and in one bag with what looked liked very old linen, was a piece of paper safety pinned to it. Lets just say my curiosity got the best of me that day.
Taking the bag off the wall I saw what looked like an Amish rag doll with a beautiful dress and a little note pinned to it. Okay, I thought, this one comes with a story and you guys know I love my stories. This is why I buy old photographs, because each photo not only has captured time and locked it in place turning that moment immortal but it also tells a story from our pasts.
So I grabbed that bag which was priced at 3.99, bought it and took it home. Once home, I opened and discovered what that letter said. It was written in cursive, a way of writing that is becoming a part of our past that has slowly disappeared as well as writing letters.
I wonder why they stopped teaching this skill in our schools to our young children. Now there is a conspiracy theory about that, but you all know how conspiracy theories go, but it does make you wonder, especially with how things are falling into place out there with what is going on.
There are a lot of old books and letters out there that are written in cursive and the most important one we have in this country is the Declaration of independence. Think about that one, I know scary huh? Why?…why would our educational system not want future generations to have the skill to read cursive. Lots of history out there. Some of these items are buried and lost at the moment waiting to be discovered like some time capsule hidden away that tells our history and how we got here. And it very well could be written in cursive.
So once I saw it was written in cursive I was happy I was born at a time when they still taught that, then I read that letter, and this is what it said:
Birthday Jan. 1992
The lady for whom I am named was a schoolteacher all of her working days. She was the principal of her home town High School for many years. She had a great sense of humor and one of her special joys was going to a circus. Her parents were wealthy people owning a department store and father president of a bank, but lost everything in the depression of 30’s. She never seem to resent it and always gay and happy. Dress is made from an old pillow (over) case at least eighty years old and put together by an old old lady.
Wow, what a treasure. Here I had something hand made many many years ago. I looked over the dress some more. So this was an old pillow case. Lets see, the letter was written in 1992 and in the letter it says the dress was made at least 80 years ago, that would make this pillow case dress today over 100 years old.
So was the dress made by the school teacher with a great sense of humor? Or was it made for her when she was a little girl during the great depression by someone else? I bet the rest of that information and answers to my questions were passed back and forth over a phone conversation, or maybe even a face to face conversation (rare one, that one) so I will never get these answers. This being the year 2020 most people communicate now by writing shorter words and quickly with beautiful photos of where we are at every moment, what we are eating, shopping for, and how we look every day if not every moment with constant photos.
The rag doll in the dress is very plain and recent (modern it seems).I am no expert though so I could be wrong, it just feels that way to me. But the dress on the other hand was beautiful and very unique with a tiny bit of lace around the edges. Maybe the dress was made for a little doll for the school teacher when her parents lost everything during the 30’s and she treasured it for many years.
I have no experience growing up during the depression but I have heard many stories about that time from my Nana when she was a little girl. She would always talk about how they they had to grow a garden and the only thing that seem to grow was cabbage, because it held up really well.
Every night and every day, her and her two brothers along with her mom and dad ate cabbage stew. On very special occasions, if they were lucky, they would have a little bit of meat to add to the cabbage stew. My Nana said it was cabbage soup mostly, just flavored water with cabbage. She told me after the depression was over she never ate cabbage again…ever!
My Nana was a great cook and knew how to stretch those meals. There was a time in the 70’s when I was a little girl and we all were struggling but she knew how to make what I called army meals, meals that fed a lot of people for cheap and not once did those meals ever include cabbage. She really never ate it after the depression.
Finally after I grew up and left home I would have cabbage for the first time and it actually wasn’t bad. It was pretty good when added to meals with flavoring. It has a good texture too.
I don’t ever remember my Nana talking about getting any dolls or toys growing up. I wonder if she ever did. Food was the most important gift when she was a little girl. It is why so many older generations appreciate edible gifts like chocolates, jams, fruits and nuts. They grew up during a time when food was worth more then gold and toys were luxury items that they probably had no energy for because they were always hungry.
This beautiful little dress was probably a very special gift given to a little girl or maybe a baby wore it during a time when everything counted and every little thing was appreciated.
The dress was still in great condition considering it’s age. There was some staining on it and from the looks of it, it looked like blood and we all know how hard that is to remove. Two very tiny little drops, maybe someone pricked their fingers when sewing, again I will never know. I don’t think I would even try to remove the tiny stains since the fabric is over 100 years old, according to the letter it came with. So happy the store decided to keep this letter with the dress.
To think that this used to be a pillow case, The lace, the pleats, and tiny details tell me someone stitched this up with a lot of care and love. Maybe this beautiful and simple dress was made for a baby. I remember when my daughter was born prematurely and we searched out doll clothes for her when she was finally okay to come home after a month in the hospital. She was only 4 lbs when she finally was released from the hospital and such a tiny little baby. Doll clothes were the perfect sizes for her then.
I might make a new rag doll for it though. But then again, most likely not, it makes a good pair the two of them. I added it to an old buggy of mine that was gifted to me many years ago, before I had children of my own.
I don’t normally come across items like this when second hand shopping. Sometimes I do come across some fun and unique items and I love sharing those rare stories with you all. Always fun when that happens. Such a treat to find anything that comes with a little history. Hope you all enjoyed this one. Happy vintage shopping everyone.