Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Treasured Chest of Memories

In my granddaughter Lilly's room stands a simple little chest that has been in my family for about seventy years.   This  small  chest, with four drawers that tend to stick when opened, stands firmly on four little legs, the front two spindled, the back two straight.  If sold in a garage sale it might bring twenty dollars, but to me it's priceless.

It was purchased by my newly wed parents when they found out they were expecting my oldest sister, Shirley.  With a very small income, I imagine they had to miss a few meals to pay for it.  But what joy they must have felt as they painted it and lovingly filled it with clothing and bedding in expectation of their first child.

As time passed and they added three more children to their family, each baby, in turn, was to use this little chest in his or her nursery.  Finally, when it was no longer needed, the little chest was relegated to the garage, where it held some of my dad's tools and some of mother's old magazines.

Years later, when my sister, Becky, married and then found out she was pregnant, the little chest was emptied of tools, loving dusted off,  and carried to another nursery to eagerly await the birth of her first daughter and my parents' first grandchild.  My sister then had two more children and with each new birth,  the little chest was painted a different color and filled to the brim with blankets, bibs and booties.

Years passed, the children outgrew the small chest and once more it was returned to its neglected spot in mother and daddy's garage. 

In 1977, after five years of marriage, Mickey and I found out we were expecting and once more it was time to pull out the old chest and haul it all the way to Duncan, Oklahoma where we had just purchased our first house.  Mickey removed five coats of old paint and gave it a fresh white one.  Back then, we didn't get to find out the sex of our child ahead of time, so we painted the drawers an avocado green and  placed it in our jungle-themed nursery of orange, yellow and green to await the birth of Mendy, our oldest child.  Our second daughter, Melanie, came along four years later and once more the chest was painted and filled with frilly little clothes, shoes and hairbows.

The chest remained in Melanie's room until she was about five years old and years later we were to discover that she had placed a whole collection of stickers on the side nearest the wall.  When she got her "big girl"     bedroom set, we moved the little chest to a storage room in our basement where it returned to its former life  as a tool cabinet.  That little chest traveled with us to Topeka, KS., St. Louis, MO, and then to the Texas     cities of San Antonio, Katy and finally, Dallas.                                                                                              

In 2004, we learned that our first grandchild, Michael, would be born and once more the old chest was stripped of its paint (and sticker collection) and given a fresh coat of white paint with blue and red drawers to match a new nursery.

Three years later, in anticipation of our granddaughter Lilly's arrival, the drawers were repainted with pink and green butterflies and now it's full of sweet little girl clothing.                                                              

So far its been used by eleven children, spanning three generations. My parents and my oldest sister have since passed away.  But hopefully, this little treasured chest of memories will remain in our family and will continue to add to the anticipation and excitement of young parents for many years to come.


  1. That is just the coolest "little chest of drawers that could" I've ever heard! I love pieces with HISTORY and this one has that in spades. Thanks for sharing the story!

  2. Oh I loved this story! I have a chest that sits next to my bed that once belonged to my grandmother. According to her an "old lady" gave it to her once upon a time. When we got it there were so many coats of paint we couldn't count them but the last one was a really weird green, not quite lime, but almost. It had been in the barn so it had a nest inside one of the drawers - a rat I suspect. We (well, really my husband) stripped it and stained it. Originally it was a washstand with one of those spindle kind of backs but that was long gone when I got it. I often wonder at all that chest has seen over the years. I think it's probably about a hundred years old but I'm no expert. I love it and hope that one of my children will someday have it beside his/her bed. blessings, marlene

  3. Marlene,
    Your chest sounds wonderful! I think old pieces have so much character. I plan on writing the history of our little chest and taping it up inside the top drawer so future generations can fully appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by. Your blog is one of my favorite places to visit!

  4. I love this chest and have cherished having it in my babies' rooms. I love opening the drawers to pull out clothes and thinking about how years ago, Nan was doing the exact same thing with love for her little ones, too. It's so special to me and I love that you painted it with love, just for Michael and now Lilly!



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