Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Hidden Surprises



Don't you love treasure hunts? Finding hidden jewels, priceless pieces, and unforgettable visions?

I found all three this last weekend. The jewels of reconnecting to family and sharing family stories, receiving an antique clock that belonged to my grandfather, and memories that will last.

I felt like Aladdin with a magic genie. We scoured boxes of old family photos. My uncle had a scrap book that had tons of old family newspaper clippings. These pieces of our families past take us to Sweden in 1875. They connect the immigrant stories of two families and how they converged to become one. The Holmgrens and the Kjells. Those clippings prove my grandmother was a first generation Swede in America. I immersed myself in history. The most fun type of research!

I looked into the eyes and faces of my ancestors and saw my children. I could see my daughter in a distant cousin. I found a photo of my teenaged grandmother and another of my grandfather's general mercantile. He was so handsome in his suit. Those photos and clippings will help me tell a story. It'll be the unusual love story between my very American grandfather (born in 1883) and his Swedish bride (born in 1904.) How she married a man 21 years older and he fell in love with the young woman who sent him condolance letters at the loss of his wife, her cousin.

Then I inherited the clock. It's a Seth Thomas column clock. Online I found out that during certain years in the 1800's, the company date stamped the clock backwards and lettered it. The code on the back of my clock meant it was made in October, 1888. That's right! I now own 119 year old two foot tall antique clock. Inside the handpainted glass door are the winding key and mechanisims. I opened it to see if it worked. But when I looked down, I saw it. An envelope, faded and worn, yellowed with age lay on the bottom of the clock.

I reached down and brushed the dust off. The envelope cracked. I carefully pulled out the contents and blew off more dust. Then, I unfolded the thin paper ever so carefully. I spread it out to decipher the handwriting. Sigh. A cleaning bill from 1984. BUT...what if it had been one of those loving condolance letters?

Now you know how my story starts. The one about the American store owner/widower and the lovely daughter of Swedish immigrants that lifts him out of his desperate loneliness. It all started with a letter...

Angie

11 comments:

  1. Ang,
    How cool is your post? I loved it. I have my grandmothers senior high school yearbook where she was valedictorian.
    I love your clock story. The whole thing sounds terribly romantic and fun and steeped in mystery. Ooops..okay, maybe I'm getting carried away.
    But great post and I'm glad you got to be a discoverer!!

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  2. What a beautiful story, Angie. And beautifully told.

    I'm sure there's a book idea in there somewhere. :) Yes, a condolance letter found in a hundred year old clock....

    :)
    Missy

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  3. Very cool, Angie. I love your perspective on life. You look at everything expecting to find the good. When I grow up, I want to be just like you :-)

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  4. Thanks, Angie. What a lovely story. Hmm... if I look a little deeper I might find a lovely story in my family history as well.

    Gina

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  5. Angie,
    I didn't expect to be lead into a romance novel today... and now I want to meet the characters. What a treat this has been!

    Thank you!
    *****************

    And I want to announce I have posted a photo of the contest Lancome purse on my blog in case any one is curious. Its not filled with the goodies yet, but it will be soon.

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  6. Gina, Missy, Mindy, Christy:-D You all made my day. I didn't know how that story idea would sound, but it clicked with me. I have several story ideas now from family history. I never thought I'd do historical romance. Hmm, this could be a new branch for me too. But I want to do the one about my mom first. Maybe I should think about a backwards family trilogy. Has that ever been done? Grandma and Grandpa can be in this story and then we do their story and then we do...choices, choices!

    Gina, you WILL find a lovely story in your history. Let your imagination fill in the holes. I found mine by asking lots of questions from different elderly people in my family. The conflict comes from more than one area because I was able to find more than one perspective. Go have fun with that one! Family really want to talk about the past:-)

    LOL Mindy, I'll let you know when I'm all grown up.
    Angie

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  7. How cool to see a photo of the clock! :)

    Missy

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  8. I know! And I spent all night figuring out how to upload the digital camera to my laptop and then to the blog, lol. I am so excited! You guys can expect more photos. Of course, this means I have to be creative with what I've got or go take more photos.
    :-D I can do that:-) And, at conferences, we can now post pics of our FAITHgirls!!!
    Angie

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  9. I'm excited you uploaded a picture. It is a really cool clock.

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  10. Thanks Christy:-) I fell in love with it years ago. The sound of the tick is low and rich. It'll put you right to sleep or calm you down. I can't wait to get it refurbished and take a nap on the couch listening to it and remembering my grandpa.
    Angie

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  11. Angie,

    The clock is beautiful, but even more so is the legacy your ancestors have left behind for you. Write that story. I know it'll be great!

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