Evoking the Past
When my aunt became unable to live in the house that had been my grandparents’ beach house in Seaview, Washington and moved to Vancouver I was promised her half of my grandmother’s china. In 1968 my mother and her sister had divided Grandma’s rather large set of hand painted china. It would be another two plus years before I actually got the boxes containing my aunt’s half, but in the meantime I searched for a china cabinet for our little Victorian cottage in Ilwaco. About a year ago I found the china cabinet I wanted, but didn’t buy it right away.
“Buy it,” my mother told me.
“And do what with it,” I asked. “I haven’t got the china and I don’t know when I will.” My cousins were left with a house full of stuff to dispose of giving me the china was not high priority. Finding a place for my aunt to live, burying her daughter (actually, I’m not sure that has happened yet) and selling the house were understandably higher on the list.
When my cousin finally dropped off the boxes at our house, I tucked them in a bedroom closet. With my husband living and working in Arizona, buying and transporting the china cabinet to our house seemed overwhelming. Then life intervened in the way of family expenses and buying the cabinet when down on my list of things to do. In the meantime my mother kept nagging me.
Life always follows an interesting path and it so happened that my lifelong best friend decided to sell her dining set and was looking for “new” pieces when I went to visit her in Mt. Angel, Oregon. We spent a weekend scouting out antique stores, malls and barns looking for just what she wanted, only stopping for a wonderful tea in Lebanon. At the end of the weekend we had seen pieces that came close, but weren’t making her heart sing and it’s no good to spend money on something you are “settling” for.
When I returned home from Oregon it was nearly the end of school and once it was out I packed up my daughter and headed to Ilwaco where I plan to spend the bulk of the summer. I was busy with projects involving porch furniture painting and flower planting when my friend called me and asked if I would go to the store where we’d found “my” china cabinet a year and a half before. There had been two likely candidates when we’d poked around the Bay Trader in Long Beach and would I take a picture of the one I didn’t want and send it to her? What are best friends for? Of course I would. I finished my painting projects on the two best painting days and when the rain returned I scooted off to Bay Trader where I took the requested picture and sent it off.
Cell coverage is spotty on the Long Beach Peninsula, at least for us. I had to stand out in the store parking lot toward the road to talk to my friend, but I understood when she told me that the cabinet I’d photographed was exactly what she wanted so I had her call Skip Wilson, the owner operator carpenter, of the Bay Trader and negotiate a deal. I figured as long as I was there I’d pull the trigger on the cabinet I wanted. Skip was fair to both of us. He came down a little on both cabinets. What really thrilled me was that he offered to deliver mine to Ilwaco and two days later the daughter of another friend showed up to help 79 year old Skip get the cabinet into our living room. I was over the moon!
I picked this cabinet because it reminds me of the one my grandmother had in her home in Vancouver. I haven’t seen that cabinet since 1968 and I believe that Grandma’s might have been bigger, but I am happy because it evokes memories of a much earlier time and even though this particular piece is not a family heirloom, perhaps it will be. Since the set of china is enough for two sisters, I’ve decided that when I cannot use it any more it will go to my granddaughters. They will have to work out the china cabinet thing. Maybe there’s another one out there that will make them as happy as this one does me.