I have a slight obsession with the things that get handed down from one generation to the next. Of all the possessions that pass through our lives, some get that special status of keepsake. When I visit my parents’ house, I wander back to the heirlooms, the things someone in my family cherished, kept safe. I want to know their stories. Who did this belong to? Where did it come from?


In the hall by the front door, there’s a cabinet of tiny treasures. These little figurines have been winking at me since I was a kid, moving from one house, to the next.

The green glass toothpick holder belonged to my great-grandmother, Tylene Elizabeth Dunning a.k.a. Mimi. My mom says she was very particular about it, wouldn’t let anyone touch it. She was so afraid it might get broken.

I have a grainy image of Mimi in my mind, probably from photos I’ve seen rather than memory (she died when I was three years old). I imagine her gasping, watching me take her beloved toothpick holder out of the china cabinet, taking photos of it with my phone. The tea set was Mimi’s too – my great uncle brought it back to her when he was in the army in Germany.


The little lady above belonged to my great-great grandmother, Ina Prince. The stamp on the bottom, a relic from a world I can’t imagine. Made in Occupied Japan. Ina lived in Lamasco, Kentucky, in a house without indoor plumbing. It’s hard for me to picture this fancy figurine in her country house – she kept a chicken coop, farmed. But Ina did have a parlor with a piano. My mom says no one spent any time in there. Everyone worked and talked in her big country kitchen.

I was born on my grandfather, Guy Griffith Jr.’s birthday. This tin was his easter basket as a boy. Later, he scrawled the word “hooks” into the top. He loved to fish.


The older of these two Bibles, the one from 1897 with the flowery scrolls, belonged to my great-grandfather, Floyd Bee Dunning, a.k.a. Beezer. He was a railroad man, and his work brought the family from Kentucky to Indiana. The Bible with the plain front cover was given to Guy Jr. at Sunday school in 1927. Maybe I get my inclinations to doodle from my grandpa? I love his little sketches hidden in the pages.


One last treasure (I could go on forever diving into these stories, but this is the last one for tonight). My mom’s favorite Christmas ornament from her childhood.


This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: “Look at your surroundings as if you’re seeing them for the first time – take a walk in your ‘hood, explore your basement, or visit a favorite spot. What do you notice?”


  • robbyslaughter

    Amazing, Sara. The objects we have echo silently with the memories of those who held them before.