Thrift store treasures- an antique pillow case dress and 1 letter.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Vera

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nana as a little girl.

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!

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Only photo I have of my great grandparents. Nana’s mom and dad and older brother years after the Great Depression.

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.

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Old photo of my mother and a neighbor girlfriend playing dolls together. My mother told me her friends always had better dolls then her, that she couldn’t even afford dolls with pretty clothes. This always made me sad when I heard her tell this story to me as a child, but then her mom  (Nana) would hear these stories from my mom when she would tell me them and say “That did not happen and you know it” it was so confusing trying to figure out which of them was telling the truth, sometimes I would laugh about it all, At least in this photo my mother holding her doll with no clothes does seem to say her dolls were always naked. My mother told me her sad story when she saw me staring at this old photo when I was a little girl. Years later my daughter would be looking at an old photo of her great grandfather and my mother would tell my daughter a very disturbing and sad story that my daughter would relate back to me and this time I would be the one to say “That’s not true, that’s not how it happened”. Some weird pattern with my mother and old photos it seems.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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53 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy Helina says:

    I absolutely love thrift store shopping. For the wallet sake, and I love items with a history. I have what I would call an “old soul”.

    Hitting the thrift stores before Christmas made me tear up a bit because some of the older decorations I saw reminded me of my child hood. Loved your story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh, I am the same way. I also get sentimental about things from my past. I have to be so careful when shopping second hand because I get so attached to anything that I love. I only go once a month and we have a rule in our home now to keep clutter down. Anytime we bring something in we have to find something to take out. We constantly have a donation pile somewhere for the month. We have been doing this for years now and it does help a lot.

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  2. Lyn Douglas says:

    What a great find. I volunteer each Tuesday in the RSPCA thrift shop here in Brisbane and we see some wonderful donations. Fun fun place to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet you always come across some really fun and unique items. Here in America at some thrift stores, if you work or volunteer there you are not allowed to shop or buy items from them. I always thought that was so silly, but then maybe they are saving them for customers too, so that is nice. I would still want to buy everything. I love vintage things.

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  3. ourcrossings says:

    What a beautiful dress, just imagine how years and years ago sewing your own skirts and dresses was the only way to get your hands on new attire. And people usually looked after every single piece of clothing they had. I love visiting thrift stores, not knowing what I’ll find is one of the reasons why I can’t stay away from them. Thanks for sharing yet another enjoyable story. Aiva ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aviva, they are fun aren’t they? I always enjoy the history behind some of these items too. So fun to look that up, kind of like solving a mystery in a way.

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  4. kat says:

    My goodness, what a treasure! I’ve done very little thrift store shopping as it really bothers my husband to not buy things new, but finds like these aren’t just amazing; they’re beautiful gems of history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kat. My son is like that, he only likes new things. I used to buy used toys all the time, as long as they weren’t broken or recalled items. They also had to be easy for me to clean and disinfect. When my kids git older I donated some of their toys to the Autism center in our city and a family shelter in a small town here in Arizona. You can save so much buying educational toys second hand, they can get pretty pricey.

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  5. I love old things that have stories behind them, stories I can wonder about. When my husband and I were first married, we bought a house that was over 100 years old. Most people probably thought it was a bit of a dump, but I always loved dreaming about all the people who may have lived there, and all the things that may have happened there!

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    1. I would love that, old homes are the best. My home is from the 1950’s and Our Little Red House was built in the 40’s and at one time used to be a post office in town. I will always pick older homes over a brand new one. I bet your home is so pretty and so unique. I like the look of old things, there is beauty it that too.

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  6. Tanya says:

    Finding old letters is my favorite. Post cards are nice too, but letters are the best. I still write in cursive and my handwriting wasn’t even great at first but now it’s nice. I’m so proud of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so pretty. I print because my cursive isn’t so great but my cousin is so good at it, it is it’s own art.

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  7. Cheri,
    This has got to be one of my all time favorite posts! We are such kindred spirits in so many ways and of course I would love this find so much, the history, the unanswered questions that beg a story to be told……and you told it beautifully!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww…thank you Laura, you are always so sweet. I do have a week spot for those vintage items there were once loved so much. We need to keep these items nice and pass them down to the next generations because they tell our stories and how we became who we are.

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      1. Whoops, meant weak, not the days of the week…that was also a weakness of mine, the similarities with words.

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      2. We are so alike! I feel exactly the same way.
        I do love a thrift store, estate auction, barn auctions, yard sales and old attics, antique malls. I take my young granddaughters with me, telling them that they are treasure hunts. I buy bags of old letters and adore old photos too. Glimpses of days gone by, another time that I can only dream.

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      3. How fun, I bet they love their treasure hunts. We have a big sale coming up here in our city that they do once a year. I can’t believe it has already been a year. I always thought I was weird buying old photos but I look at them like little works of art. Glad to know there are more of us out there that appreciate old photos and letters. So nice that you are passing that love of the old down to your grandchildren too.

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      4. I so hope that takes root in them. Like you, I am both concerned and saddened that the youngers will not know nor read cursive! I implore my children to teach them at home.

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      5. Good, we need more moms and people out there like you. The Native Americans here in our state always talk about how they pass down their stories so their children will always know their history. There is always one of us in each family, we usually have the best memories too. It is how God plans it. Some people have a strong sense of remembering and passing down our history to help others.

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      6. You know, that is true! I’m the ancestral memory keeper in my family. I’ll be given my great grandmothers old black truck that holds, mementos, letters and photos from our ancestors. The newer generation keeper will probably be my niece, Lainey. She has the nature and the heart that wants to preserve our history as well. 😊

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      7. My aunt was the one who kept the family history together and now I am noticing she is forgetting little things now and then but then she is 80 years old. Sadly her children are very angry right now with some political things and they tend to only hang around people that they believe share their same views and it doesn’t matter if you talk politics or not, they just look at older people and judge them on that alone. My aunt has shared some things with me but each year that goes by, the hate over there and separation gets stronger and stronger, so who knows what will happen with all that family history my aunt has kept over the years. I have some that she shared with me before the world went a little weird and I got my answers years ago when my father died so I am at peace now no matter what the outcome. I do hope some of my cousins start turning that resentment towards others around to love towards others instead. The whole world is experiencing this now though, so this is not my story alone. Anyway, keep your family close and give them lost of hugs and let them know you love them, which I already can tell you do. Have a great weekend.

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      8. It’s true. We were warned these days would come and if we weren’t firmly rooted, we could fall into this trap too. Here we stand in terrible awe at the world gone mad around us.
        My parents hold them memories of not only their lives but my grandparents, great grandparents and the great greats. I encourage them to write their stories and memories down so they wont become lost. My father recently asked if their were anything specifically that I wanted him to leave me that would have special remembrance of him after he’s gone. While I diverted the topic, being uncomfortable with the idea of him not being here, I thought about it later and while his birthday was soon, I sent him a leather journal with a note telling him that when he is gone, the one thing I’ll want more than anything….is his memories, story, thoughts, what he wanted to say to me…..all I would want would be him.

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      9. Oh my gosh, reading this just gave me goosebumps. I also brought this up with my aunt and even bought a book for that but nothing was mentioned again. I guess I will have to start writing these things down in front of her when she tells me. I believe memories and lessons from our love ones are more important then ever now. I wish I would have done that with my father but sadly when he passed it was in a sudden and tragic way at work. It was also at a time when my mother had spread lies to separate and torment my father so he stayed away from me that last year of his life in order to get some peace from his ex-wife (my mother). It is a very long and complicated story but I am seeing this same story everywhere out there now in the world. Families are turning against each another. For the silliest things too, like jealousy and envy. The side that tries to keep it all together by being positive are the ones that are being emotionally attacked the most with hate and they don’t even have to bring up any controversial topics. They are being hated just because they don’t want to jump on that hate wagon with everyone else. Like you either want to cause chaos or you don’t and the ones that don’t are HATED. This post sounds a little extreme but it does look that way and it all happened so fast. Now I just try to talk to my kids everyday, reminding them what is important and letting everyone know we love them. I tell them their dad and I have to deprogram them from all the lies they are being bombarded with every day. We call what is going on like a cult in a way…so scary.

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      10. It is! But, that is exactly what we can do…all we can do, is deprogram our people from the madness outside and reinforce love, kindness, understanding, teaching mercy and grace.

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      11. P.S It’s a great idea to jot down her memories for her and yours too while you’re at it, for your children and future generations. 😊💕

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I will definitely start doing that, good tip, thank you.

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  8. Dandelion B says:

    What a find! My SIL taught my nieces cursive my older 2 had some teaching in school my younger 2 so sad I had to teach them what a signature was and help them create one.
    My nana too lived thru the depression she would have been barley 30 and a mom of many youngins. She too only spoke of making food stretch and not of toys
    For her it was a lot of home made porriages and homemade bread eaten fresh but then made into things once stale too. My nana use to make me.dolls like that. Painting faces on, using scrap yarn for hair.and scraps of fabric for clothes. I will.never forget the feeling seeing one come to life. I thought my nana was magical

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She sounds like she was a fun Nana. My grandma (father’s side) was the one who make us little toys and arts and craft projects. My Nana loved cooking but she is the one who first taught me how to thread a needle and sew things. She would tell me how her mother (great granny) was so good at embroidery and would create beautiful things with her sewing skills. Back in the day I guess that is how people entertained themselves since they didn’t have televisions and computers. I love sitting down somewhere quiet and sewing up some cute little critter. I have always loved toys. Your Happy meal toys you got this year are so cute. I guess they don’t teach cursive in Canada too, that is so sad. It is like art when you think about it.

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      1. Dandelion B says:

        My nana was my dads mom.too and taught my my “homemaking” skills. Dad taught me how to knit but she also did to..she use to knit away by the hours well into her 80s. Yes cursive is a lost art here as well, sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your nana and dad sound similar to mine. I do miss them but at least I still have their memories. I remember my Nana and Dad would get into arguments every night about one subject, every night it was always the same subject. Now this was in the 80’s. My Nana was a drinker, so the later it got the more angry she would get from her drinking and she loved getting into arguments with my father (my Nana lived next door to us) anyway my dad never drank so it always confused me to why he would even bother trying to reason with someone who was a little drunk, but he did. The subject they would argue about every night was Russia and China. Now I laugh thinking about that, all those years ago. My dad would say Russia is who we need to watch out for and my Nana would stand up with her drink in her hand and always stumble a little and say a little too loudly “NO IT’S CHINA” and back and forth they go so I would leave the room. Here in America they had horrible shows about wars that they would play on television. Between those two trying to figure out who not to trust and those horrible shows back then about war it was enough to drive any kid a little crazy. Sometimes I shake my head thinking about those late night arguments and wonder what they would say now in the year 2020 if they were still alive. I think they liked their nightly arguments.

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      3. Dandelion B says:

        My dad is the one who liked hes beer and wine, Nana didn’t drink at all, I always smiled though when she would put him in his place. 80 90 year old women reminding my dad that she brought him into this world! lol

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That is so funny, I guess that is the difference between our lives because my Nana was the drinker and my dad did not drink or smoke at all,

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  9. Dandelion B says:

    Oh and my hubz one thing he wont buy is old photos especially portraits, he fears they are haunted I think he knows I secretly hope they are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never thought of that. Now when I look through old photos I will think of this, so funny. I usually only buy things that give me a good feeling when I pick them up. There have been times I have picked something up and sat it back down because it did not have happy feelings associated with it. Strange, I know, but I have done that since I was a little girl.

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      1. Dandelion B says:

        Im yet to get a bad feeling. Hubz wont even give photos a look he “runs” right by them. Once we were at an antique market it had an old concrete basment. In it was old portraits but massive in size and framed. The children looked like porcelain vampires…just lovely! (They looked pale with eyes that saw through you) I imagine they were painted Im not sure..perhaps modern times enhanced and blown up. Anyway hubz had no problem.being in this dingy basment digging through treasures,as soon as he saw the pile of photos he was out haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is so funny, but I can understand. Some of those photos are a little creepy. I heard that a long, long time ago some people would take photos of their dead relatives to remember them by, now that is creepy. So I completely understand where your husband is coming from, there are moments I too will walk out of a room that makes me feel uncomfortable and that goes for some old things too. I love old photos though and I try to think of what stories they have to tell.

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      3. Dandelion B says:

        I def get those feelings in places and with alive people but never and object. I read that too..theyd pose thier.dead.in their homes and beds for photos!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I saw some once somewhere but I don’t remember if it was a book, old photos I saw in person or a movie. I have many years of shopping in some pretty unusual places not just here in my country but other countries as well. Who knows, maybe I came across some while out shopping but I would never buy those, too creepy. One time in Belize I asked the taxi driver (he said he was a taxi driver but he was driving a regular car) to take me and my husband to a place where I could pick up some souvenirs to take back home but I didn’t want anything that wasn’t local to the area, and I would also like it to be from artists in the area as well if he knew of such a place. He drove us to someones home and when I first got out it looked a little scary since it was in a really poor area. But I had no children so I was a little more daring then. Once we have children though, our life no longer belongs to us, it belongs to them so we have to be careful to protect it. Anyway, I got out. and walked into a strangers home in Central America. The owners of the shop took one of their rooms and took all the furniture out and made it into a shop of sorts. They lined the walls with wood shelves and they had all kinds of little hand made art pieces everywhere. I had the biggest smile on my face when I saw that and told the taxi guy that was exactly what I wanted and bought a bunch of items which were these little folk art clay pigs from a woman behind a table in the room. I forgot to buy one for me though and gave them all out when I got back home. That was fun, it was way before blogging or I would have totally done a post on that store in someones home, so funny.

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      5. Dandelion B says:

        100% when I became a mom I became this over protective, evil lurks in every corner, type of person lol. Belize is a place I had never heard of but my SIL parents head there often for vacation so now I for sure have heard of it lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I went many years ago and I loved it. The sea is so blue and they have these fish that light up at night in the water. When you grow up in a desert environment your whole life and you get out and see new things in the world it is so amazing. The bad thing was these types of flies that lay eggs in you that develop under your skin (anywhere too) and there is usually a tiny hole where they breath through while they are growing. It is the stuff of nightmares but they are so common with the locals and visitors that stay awhile that everyone becomes used to dealing with that issue. I forget what they are called. I know, kind of gross but people should know the good and bad about any place they decide to visit. Belize has many types of insects.

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      7. Dandelion B says:

        Reminds self to NEVER visit Belize!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. So funny, they are a little extreme but not everyone gets them. It is a very beautiful country but there are some scary insects and when you get to the mangroves and rain forest areas you have to watch out for all kinds of things, even Jaguars. I am used to large cats here because we have Mountain lions up north. In fact, we almost hit one with our truck one time when we were up in the woods driving into town. That did scare me a little because it was when my kids were little and in the area the lion came from we had stopped there earlier in the week to collect pine cones.
        I am always keeping my eyes out for bears and lions when I am out in those woods collecting supplies for art.

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      9. Dandelion B says:

        Much more up north here they deal with bears. I love wild life but not any that can eat me…hate allll bugs! I love racoons and skunks.once a baby skunk got trapped in our garage..there was hubz running down the sidewalk yelping and me saying shooshoo baby skunk right in the garage haha Ill never let him live it down.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I always wanted a baby raccoon and always tease my family when out in the woods that I am searching for a baby raccoon. My husband does not like raccoons because he had a bad experience with some when he was younger I guess. I even have a painting in our place up north of a baby raccoons. That skunk story is too funny, I bet that baby skunk was adorable.

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  10. Librarylady says:

    Wow, you found a treasure, and this little doll found a good home. What fun to have that note to go with it so you know it’s history. I have an antique blessing dress that’s similar to this in style though not so pristine looking. It belonged to my great grandmother, and has kind of yellowed with age, but will last a long time. I think I’ll write a note about its history and pin it on for the next person who loves it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet it is beautiful and such special memories it holds too. That is such a good idea about writing notes to add to our family heirlooms, I meed to start doing that. Of course this dress will always have that note to go with it.

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  11. bushboy says:

    Dropped in from a recommendation from Laura 🙂 glad I did

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you and thank you to Laura as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love it! I work in consignments and Estate clearing. I absolutely love it. The only pitfall is that I’ve accumulated so much extra stuff because I can’t bear to see them throw away something of use.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I also have that problem. It is one of the reasons I am taking some time offline to try to catch up on cleaning up projects and simplifying our lives. We do this twice a year, every year. Today I am stopping by to visit some other bloggers site since I haven’t really gotten around to that lately. We have a huge yard sale in our city coming up and I can’t wait to attend that. I have to be careful, I love vintage anything.

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  13. What an absolute treasure! I have always loved antiques and the stories they tell, but for you to stumble upon this among the odds and ends of a thrift shop, that was a real find! A beautiful story from beginning to end, reminding us of the struggles and joy of days gone past. We need these reminders, telling us where we came from. Thank you for sharing this glimpse of history.

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    1. Thank you Melissa, so happy you enjoyed that. I was so surprised when I saw a letter in a grab bag. It was a fun find that’s for sure.

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