Category Archives: Ancestry

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium, Rocking Dog

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

When my siblings and I were growing up we were always aware that our dad Doug did not ever want to lick someone else’s ice cream or to share a glass. He couldn’t abide spitting and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to sip wine from the Communion Cup!

He later told us that prior to his birth, his mother Emily had been in a sanitorium at the age of 21 for the treatment of TB. She in fact had to have part of a lung removed. TB Bacilli are passed through sputum, and thus a sneeze, a cough or dribble could pass the infection on. This therefore was the reason why Doug didn’t want to share food or spit on the rugby field!

Emily’s illness can be dated by some postcards which have survived a century. These postcards were sent from her sister Susan, serving as a nurse in France and her brothers Colin, David and Walter who were serving in France and the Middle East. The postcards include images of a mosque in Cairo, a Bedouin lady, pansies, the Dead Sea and interiors of French churches. There are also autographed photographic postcards of the brothers in various uniforms. From the postcards I can certainly deduce that Susan had a very sweet tooth as two of her cards mention a parcel of sweets not having arrived and then another saying thank you for a parcel, “You evidently anticipated my wishes, for when I wrote three days ago I asked for sweets”. Brother Walter who was a sergeant major sent one card from Blackpool where he was convalescing for a war injury, a postcard from one hospital to another!

Emily’s treatment in 1915-1916 would have consisted of bed rest, a nutritious diet, surgery and possibly Creosote inhalations. Fresh air would have also been prescribed. Many hospitals incorporated new balconies where patients could be wheeled out in their beds. In inclement weather black mackintosh quilts would be provided. I was very envious of a friend who bought a bargainous sun house that swivelled around on a circular track. This was originally from a sanatorium, for the use of TB patients and it allowed the patients to “move” around with the sun.

Treatment of TB even today is very tricky and lengthy. It involves large doses of antibiotics. In 1815 one in four deaths in England was due to TB. Even 100 years later when Emily was being treated, 50% of those who went to a sanatorium, died within five years. There was quite a stigma attached to the disease as it was often linked to overcrowding, malnutrition and poverty. I am unaware of how Emily’s treatment was funded, though the family were reasonably prosperous. These of course were the days before the NHS.

Eventually, Emily did recover and she was advised to move from Edinburgh to somewhere more rural for good country air. Incidentally, Edinburgh was sometimes called Auld Reekie, translated it means Old Smokey! She moved to the border town of Kelso, and there she met John Warrington Scott (my grandfather) who had been invalided out of the Royal Engineers having been gassed in the trenches….. and the rest as we say is history!

Emily and Brother Colin, Rocking Dog

Emily And Brother Colin

Century Old Postcards, Rocking Dog

Century Old Postcards

Handsome Siblings, Rocking Dog

Handsome Siblings

Doug And The Legendary Lie Detector

Guardian Of The Little Black Box, Rocking Dog

Guardian Of The Little Black Box

This sombrero’d piece of 60’s kitsch now resides in my sewing room. Originally it lived in my childhood home and never really saw the light of day. Instead, this tourist treasure stood sentinel over my Dad Doug’s little black box. Housed on the top shelf of his wardrobe it shared space with Doug’s Homburg hat (remember everyone but everyone wore a hat to a funeral),and life’s inevitable flotsam and jetsam. There was also more than likely a secretive stash of chocolate. Poor Dad it became ever more problematic to hide Fry’s Chocolate Cream bars, Raspberry Ruffle’s, Crunchie’s and Mars bars from the tentacles of three human gannets! How jubilant were we if we found one of these confectionary hideouts- the garage was a favourite. Dad then had to go back to the drawing board to plot an evermore inventive hidey-hole.

Back to the wardrobe, the little black box was a slightly scary enigma when we were growing up. This was Dad’s Lie Detector. When none of us would own up to a wrong doing, the threat of the little black box being brought out was enough for the felon to come forward! I vividly remember an occasion when I sprayed an exterior porch wall with gold spray paint. I would not own up…so..the little black box was threatened. As per usual the threat did the trick and no doubt I got a smacked bottom!

So what was the little black box? Dad served in the Royal Navy telegraphist in WW2 sending and receiving important Morse Code messages, perhaps this was a relic from his naval days ? Certainly not, for this was a simple door bell box cover! I remember the three of us precariously balancing on a chair on tiptoes trying to reach the little back box, desperately trying to dispel the mystique!

Even little pottery Mexican man had a degree of mystery, full of loose change I always thought he was a Chinaman. Only recently did I really carefully look at him and begin suspecting he was brought back from a 1960’s Spanish package holiday together with some Flamenco dancer postcards.

My Dad Doug, Rocking Dog

My Dad Doug

Hola! Rocking Dog


What’s In The Box Rocking Dog ?

Uninspiring Box, Rocking Dog

Uninspiring Box

An interesting question, which i’m going to answer shortly! I thought i’d share another Fabric of Life story with you.

In 1985 Andyman’s paternal grandmother died, and in the course of clearing her little flat in Inverness, Andy’s parents came across a very uninspiring old shirt box stowed on top of a wardrobe. They were completely unaware of the boxes contents and no doubt like everyone they hoped for a crammed box of crisp bank notes! Alas it was not to be, however in its own way the boxes contents were much more interesting, for it contained a wedding day in a box.

On the 19th April 1929 Agnes Marshall (known as Nancy) married David Ferguson at Lochgelly Parish Church in Fife, Scotland. This box contained Nancy’s wedding dress, stockings, wax flowers from her veil, some wedding photo’s and a pair of hand painted silk wedding favours. At a later date a little pom-pom’d leather babies shoe had been added to the box (in all probability belonging to Andyman’s father or uncle).

My mother and father in law had never seen any of the contents before, it was a true revelation. I wonder whether had Nancy had daughters and granddaughters she may have shared girly time showing off her wedding finery. A few years ago my in laws kindly bequeathed the box and its contents to me knowing of my interest in textiles, nostalgia and clutter!

When it came to photographing all the items for this particular blog I became keenly aware of the fabrics and their manufacture.

Somewhat thankfully the dress has avoided being ravaged by moths. Had this dress been of silk I rather this dress would have been thrown away long ago. Instead it is made from Art Silk (Artificial Silk), most probably Rayon which became really popular in this era as a cheaper alternative to silk. Rayon is made from purified cellulose, usually from wood or cotton. Silk, satin and velvet were still favoured by high end designers at this time, but for the mass market, department stores started carrying less expensive garments using these newly developed semi-synthetic fibres.

As for the style of Nancy’s dress- it is daringly calf length. For the first time in centuries women’s legs were seen, with hemlines rising to the knee. World War 1 and the Women’s Rights Movement had done much to emancipate women. Women ditched restrictive clothing including waist nipping corsets, and dresses became functional, flattening the bosom rather than accentuating it! At around the time of this family wedding, collars and bodices were abandoned. Therefore Nancy’s dress was right on trend, with drop waisted shift shape, having no collar, calf length and using one of the revolutionary new fabrics. It also includes hook and eye fastenings on one of the side seams. Many of these fastenings were made by Newey’s of Birmingham from 1791. Unlike buttons they obviously allowed for a flatter, less bulky seam.

Wedding In A Box, Rocking Dog

Wedding In A Box

Deco Dress, Rocking Dog

Deco Dress

Bridal Party 1929, Rocking Dog

Bridal Party 1929







Nancy’s dress also includes metallic thread to embellish the three dimensional Hydrangea style flowers. Over time where the dress has been folded, rust spots have rather cruelly marred it. With its twinkling silvery metallic glints it must have looked really pretty on it’s one outing in the spring of 1929. Though outwardly sweet, it is somewhat crudely made, with a machine finished hem and rough seams. With no label, I have no idea of the provenance of the dress, perhaps it was made by a competent seamstress rather than a departmental store purchase. In the photo’s the dress has been accessorised with veil, some sort of cape andMary Jane┬áheeled shoes.

The stockings are again of a Rayon type fabric and though in near perfect condition one of the pair has a small hole at the knee. My late Father in Law remembered his mother telling him that she had tripped badly on her wedding day.

As for the other accessories in the box, the wax flowers are one cluster of what would have been a pair. They formed part of Nancy’s veil regalia and consist of wax blossoms with yellow cotton sepals, together with a spray of artificial heather (no doubt for luck), green bias binding trails and celluloid leaves. Meanwhile the silk “favours”are possibly the 1920’s equivalent of giving a bride a lucky horseshoe, however, I could be completely incorrect on this point. These braided satin shields include hand painted initials of bride and groom, together with their marriage date and rose decoration. The colours are still very vibrant even after 86 years.

So that’s what’s in the box! I only wish I could get my own wedding dress in a mere shoe box. Alas, I was one of those 1980’s Princes Diana dress brides and i’m afraid my frou’y meringue is somewhat unceremoniously stored in a large bag under the bed. Like Nancy’s I rather think the moths will give it a wide birth, layers of nylon tulle really not catering for the destructive creatures’discerning palate. Anyone curious enough to want to see my dress on a future blog post send me a pleading request, I may somewhat embarrassingly consider it!

Rayon Hosiery, Rocking Dog

Rayon Hosiery

Wax Flora, Rocking Dog

Wax Flora

Wedding Favours, Rocking Dog

Wedding Favours

Rocking Dog Sewing For Little Ones

Vintage For Little Folk, Rocking Dog

Vintage For Little Folk

Rocking Dog is contemplating sewing some vintage fabric skirts and dresses for little ones. There is something lovely about doing things on a small scale, not left to worry about the often disappointing fit of sewing adult clothes. Having said that, I loved a pair of trousers I made a good few years ago which were made in the most amazing fabric which pictured sleeping Mexicans complete with sombrero’s and poncho’s. A little piece or two of the fabric has ended up in oldest daughters quilt which I made about three years ago. Meanwhile youngest daughter’s quilt features a pieces of vintage chintz which were left over from making a bed for Real Live Rocking Dog. Both quilts are sewn with their baby dresses etc.. left as intact as possible. Livi’s quilt has the quote “A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars” Get the tissues out!

My Mum made a lot of clothes for my sister and I. It was significantly cheaper to make garments rather than go to a drapers to buy clothes for young ladies! I remember a bundle of full skirted 50’s dresses arriving from my aunt in Scotland. These were taken apart by my mum and made into various dresses for us. I rather think the little bibbed play skirts in the photo below utilised some of the fabric from one of these deconstructed dresses. I remember the fabric well, beautiful turquoise fine crisp cotton bedecked with exotic tall figures. I also remember my mum making dresses from glazed orange curtain fabric, embellished with gold braid and buttons, how very family Von Trapp! Our first grown up dresses were maxi dresses (though with growth they subsequently became midi dresses), were made in very fine white fabric with a bold black polka dot. The only rather annoying tale of my mum’s dressmaking is that if there was a choice of fabric my mum chose brown for me as I had brown eyes and brown hair, whilst my sister with her blue eyes got the blue material! I sometimes wonder if that is why I really don’t like wearing brown at all now, but more than likely my brown uniformed Saturday job at Debenham’s had more to do with it.

Obviously the finish of children’s clothes is vital to stop any rubbing. I’ll need to polish up on the neatness of my seams and get jiggy with it trying to find out what parents and children want. I think for little girls I need to be making “Frozen” princess dresses. I hear there is near hysteria for all that is Frozen, even inspiring a range of blue wedding dresses. Wonders never cease to amaze!

Patterns For Little People, Rocking Dog

Patterns For Little People

Dog Bed Quilt, Rocking Dog

Dog Bed Quilt

Von Trapp Family Dresses, Rocking Dog

Von Trapp Family Dresses

Rediscovering Calligraphy At The Makery

Meticulous Ink, Rocking Dog

Meticulous Ink

On Saturday I clocked in at “The Makery” for a calligraphy workshop with Athena of “Meticulous Ink”, Bath.

I’m a big fan of The Makery having previously been on a workshop to make Roman Blinds. I found that workshop to have been informative, fun and well paced. Most importantly it gave me the confidence to embark on making blinds for my lounge windows. I am now looking to make blinds for the kitchen with an as yet unchosen fabric. Apart from being given a concise instruction sheet I came away from the workshop having made a small blind which is great to refer back to. Finally when I had an issue with measurements for one of my blinds an e.mail to the workshop tutor resulted in a quick response with advice….so brilliant after care too! Finally after seventeen years my lounge had dressed windows, hallelujah!

Though taught italics at school and with reasonable handwriting, I wanted to learn some more swirly flourishes. In the longer term, when well practiced I would like to paint some linen banners. I therefore readily signed up for this 2 hour workshop to reacquaint myself with calligraphy. Through the jolly yellow door of “The Makery” I went, and formed part of a group of twelve budding calligraphers. We sat around one long table and were offered hot drinks by friendly Makery staff before embarking on the serious business of learning beautiful script. Athena patiently took us through upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. Once she felt we’d mastered the letter A, we’d then proceed to B and so forth. I was surprised how challenging I found it, perhaps I had bad calligraphy habits to undo. I’d certainly have won the prize for the most inky finger!

The lovely girl sat next to me, had come along to the session because she’d recently become engaged and wanted to write all her wedding invitations and envelopes. By the end of the session she realised she’d need to put in some serious practice to make that a reality. I hope she does, what could be more lovely than receiving something beautifully handwritten.

The more than two hours went very quickly, but very enjoyably. It really has made me want to re-look at my handwriting and get more flamboyant. We left the session with precious supplies of nib holder, nib, alphabet guide sheet, a wodge of calligraphy paper and some amazing Iron Gall calligraphers ink (all included in the cost of the workshop). Thank you Athena. PS you have the most glorious hair by the way!

A strange unexpected bi-product of this workshop is that I am able to better understand the script in the 1846 recipe book I am currently transcribing. Understanding proper formation of individual letters has been incredibly helpful. At the moment I am deciphering recipes for Suet College Puddings and Cream Pancakes.

Still on the theme of writing, I love the verse that my Great Uncle Walter penned on a postcard to my Grandmother Emily (his sister) on 11th September 1911

Why? has all the ink in the world gone dry
Are all the pens mislaid?
Pencils too- are there none to buy?
Is paper no longer made?
If you are not deep in this awful plight
Then why in the world
do you never write?

Makery Magic!, Rocking Dog

Makery Magic!

My First Blind, Rocking Dog

My First Blind

Practice Will Make Perfect!, Rocking Dog

Practice Will Make Perfect!

Rocking Dog Makes Valentine Hearts

Crooked Love Hearts, Rocking Dog

Crooked Love Hearts

With Valentine’s Day around the corner a Rocking Dog crooked heart make. These lavender stuffed hearts are easy to make and have eco friendly credentials as they use vintage remnants and embellishments.

Though pretty, they more seriously keep moths at bay. Moths are discerning little critters and love cashmere, fur, feathers, silk, and wool in particular. They also love the dark and being undisturbed. Therefore give your wardrobe a frequent “spring” clean. They don’t stop with clothes either, so frequently vacuum clean wool carpets and shake folded blankets outside. Anything you feel is particular venerable and shows possible signs of moth damage, bag up and put in the freezer for 12 hours. When you come to put your woolies/coats etc.. away at the end of the winter make sure they are clean, moths love sweaty food stained garments! Put in plastic suit carriers- they are commonly lazy creatures who won’t go to the bother of chewing through the plastic! Cedar wood or lavender certainly help to discourage moths, together with less warm conditions- so switch the central heating off!

Rocking Dog Crooked Hearts.

1. Draw and cut a heart shaped template from card. Mine roughly measures 17cm long by 11cm at widest point.
2. Take an old embroidered table mat, tray cloth, serviette and use your template to draw around to cut some hearts.
3. Choose some pretty backing fabric and again use your template to cut hearts.
4. Embellish your vintage fabric fronts with some pretty buttons, beads, braid or/and ribbon.
5. Remember to stay clear from the edge, it’s difficult to sew seams with buttons in the way!
6. Take your vintage fabric heart and a backing fabric heart, put right side to right side.
7. Tuck a short folded length of string/ ribbon in between the heart layers (this will form the hanging loop).
8. Start machine (or hand) sewing mid way down one of the heart sides.
Continue stitching all the way around until approx 3cm away from start point.
Reverse stitch and take heart from the machine.
9. Turn your heart right way out. Use a pencil or chopstick to get a good point and shape. Press.
10 Fill your heart generously with lavender. I use a plate or tray to collect all the lavender that escapes.
11. Close the gap by hand using neat hem stitching.
12. Tie a pretty piece of ribbon around the loop. Plump your heart up and hang on a Rocking Dog coat hanger. Voila!

Ingredients, Rocking Dog


Draw, Rocking Dog


Cut, Rocking Dog


Embellish, Rocking Dog


Sew, Rocking Dog


Done, Rocking Dog


Not In My Tree

Whose Baby?, Rocking Dog

Whose Baby?

It always makes me sad to see old photo’s and photograph albums lying rather forlornly in charity shops, flea market stalls and the like. Sometimes I feel sufficiently sad to want to give these photo’s a home! I appreciate that I am very sentimental, and it would be completely alien to me to part with my personal cache of family photographs. I am therefore always curious as to why photographs are abandoned and discarded. Over the years I have amassed a small collection of “not in my tree” photo’s including an album with incredible photo’s of WWI Gallipoli and ANZAC soldiers recovering in an Oxford hospital (if only I could find it!) Other photo’s date back further and provide a wonderful historical document of fashion, housing, class, toys, prams, uniform etc..

Thus the lovely chubby baby above is no relation to me. You are left to wonder whether the baby reached adulthood, lost its endearing chubbiness and the hopes that they lived a happy life. We presume from the clothing that the baby is a girl, but one hundred years ago babies were dressed very similarly. This baby could indeed have served in WW1, a casualty, a survivor, a hero, a deserter, who knows.

My Dr Zhivago fur and velvet clad mother and child are in fact Danish. Dated on the back of the photograph 1902, these are obviously wealthy Copenhagen residents. My lovely sister gave me this photo a number of years ago, so even relatives know me well enough to know that i’ll love a “not in my tree” photo!

The montage of photo’s featuring children are an eclectic collection of children from different eras and social backgrounds. How stern the spectacled nanny (?) looks. Her starched apron features the embroidered words “All for Jesus”, and the photograph has been taken at the Salvation Army Photographic Studio. Is this baby a foundling, a baby to be adopted, a promotional photograph, a conundrum never to be solved. I love the photo of the girls with babies in prams, so reminiscent of “Call The Midwife”. Alas there are no dates, no names, no anything to tell us who these sweet girls are.

The Mother bathing her baby in the enamelled bath was a very exciting project. I found some glass negatives in a cigar box at an indoor junk market about 25 years ago. There were the faintest magical tracings of what the images could be, and I duly purchased the plates for a few pounds. For a while the plates lay cocooned in their cigar box home but eventually my dear dad found a super keen photographic enthusiast. The plates disappeared into his dark room and voila! this beautiful image appeared. I love the way the photographer has captured the mother’s smile as she tenderly sponges her calm baby. Another very special “not in my tree” photo.

Lastly, an entire album of one woman’s coach trip travels in the late 1950’s. There are the glories of Venice, Rome, Pompei, Capri, Florence, Interlaken and Windermere! There are the chair-lift rides, the group photos, full 1950’s skirts, the bags and the shoes. How did this meticulously ordered album end up unloved and unwanted?

So a little glimpse of my somewhat bonkers “not in my tree” photograph collection.

Dr Zhivago Photo, Rocking Dog

Dr Zhivago Photo

Montage Of Childhood, Rocking Dog

Montage Of Childhood

Cigar Box Photo, Rocking Dog

Cigar Box Photo

1950's Coach Trip, Rocking Dog

1950’s Coach Trip

The Tale Of The Three Little Pigs

What's A Cookin' Piggy Cook? Rocking Dog

What’s A Cookin’ Piggy Cook?

…..So I’ll huff and i’ll puff and blow your house down….yes you get the drift! But no i’m not going to be talking about a story from childhood this morning, this blog is about 3 other little pigs!

The first pig is Piggy Cook which featured at many a Birthday party when I and my siblings were growing up. I think the fact that it was only bought out for high days and holidays means it has fared well over its 50 years. How ironic though that Piggy Cook is cooking bacon in his frying pan! With lighting effects, movement and noise it was and still is a real crowd pleaser.

The second pig is a Swedish pig. Translated, the Den Hariga Grisen Deli means The Hairy Pig Deli, and if you ever happen to be in Stockholm I can truly recommend it. Tiny, seating about 16 people it serves up the most delicious sausages, Glogg, charcuterie and Swedish beers. It has a gorgeous ambience with beams, open preparation area, misted windows and lots of wood (think Heidi’s cabin!). Very friendly staff and yummy food at reasonable prices together with the best Glogg make this a foodie destination to earmark. The little bread dough pigs which accompany the charcuterie platter are made by a retired Stockholm baker, charming. One word of warning do go to the loo before a visit to the Hairy Pig, they had to make a choice between a kitchen (essential for an eatery one supposes) and toilet facilities. It really is that small.

And finally the third little pig resides a little closer to home, that’s unless you’re reading this in Sweden. Yes the third pig is The Pig near Bath. However, there are other Pigs in the sty so to speak, including ones in the New Forest, and one in Studland, Dorset. Most interestingly one which is opening in the Alps, I might just take up skiing after all. Back to boring old Britain….The Pig at Bath is LOVELY, gorgeous food, fabulous decor, friendly staff and beautiful grounds to wander around. I could wax lyrical about the food but rather tire of reading the food critics pompously exclaiming dishes could do with a tad more seasoning etc… etc.. However…. I do have to say that the panna cotta was truly the best and possibly the most generous i’d ever tasted, and i’m a panna cotta expert witness!

So that’s the story of the three little pigs…. and they all lived happily ever after.

Have a wonderful weekend, wrap up warmly and drink some Glogg! Incidentally the Baileys still remains untouched, I can’t say that two weeks without alcohol has made me feel particularly invigorated, ecstatic about weight loss (?!) or given me the desire to walk around wearing a halo…BUT I am feeling pleased that Cancer Research (and my liver) will benefit.

But Where's Piggy Cook?, Rocking Dog

But Where’s Piggy Cook?

Hairy Pig Grub, Rocking Dog

Hairy Pig Grub

Charcuterie Pig, Rocking Dog

Charcuterie Pig

Bath Piggy, Rocking Dog

Bath Piggy

Fork To Plate, Rocking Dog

Fork To Plate

Divine Dessert, Rocking Dog

Divine Dessert

The War Told in Fabric

Wedding July 1945, Rocking Dog

Wedding July 1945

I came across this photo of my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Alec whilst on my cleaning blitz. Their wedding in Edinburgh took place in July 1945, just two months after war had ended in Europe. I have no idea whether Margaret’s dress was a dress that had been borrowed as was common during the years of rationing, or whether it was made from silk rescued from a parachute. Parachutes were much in demand for the making of underwear, nightwear and wedding dresses.

Clothing rationing was brought in during 1941 so that factories and their workers could be freed up for the making of armaments. Additionally, there were difficulties in importing raw materials due to the bombing of merchant shipping. Rationing made for a fair system for the population and everyone was issued with a ration book with coupons to purchase clothing. Clothing rationing unbelievably continued until 1949. Furnishing fabric was rationed later than dress fabrics and for a time many women used these fabrics to make clothes. The amount of buttons, trimmings, skirt length and fullness were tightly governed. Many men were miffed that trousers could no longer sport turn ups.

The Utility Scheme was launched by the British Board of Trade in 1943 and offered people a range of well designed, good quality and price controlled clothing. Indeed this scheme not only covered clothing but footwear, furniture and home textiles. Utility items carried the CC41 logo. It is likely the CC stood for Civilian Clothing but another interpretation could be Controlled Commodity. 41 signifies the year that clothing rationing began.

The photo below of the fabric with the whimsical castle etc.. is Utility fabric. I bought this in an antique shop in Marlborough a few years ago and have a few yards (or should I politically correctly say metres!) I found a CC41 mark along its border, and now can’t find it to photograph! I have upholstered a 1930’s child’s chair with it but am feeling rather miserly about what to do with the remainder.

The 1942 Australia label is stitched to a scratchy wool blanket which my dad Doug bought back in his kit bag whilst serving as a telegraphist in the Royal Navy. In fact Doug missed his sister Margaret’s wedding because he was serving in the far east. War finally ended on 2nd September 1945 and my dad came home. I remember seeing his Navy whites neatly folded in a bedroom drawer in the late 60’s, but eventually there must have been a culling process, and now there are just the photo’s and a medal or two.

The War told in Fabric.

Utility Whimsy, Rocking Dog

Utility Whimsy

Kit Bag Blanket, Rocking Dog

Kit Bag Blanket

We Are Sailing, Rocking Dog

We Are Sailing

Dad’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Dad's Drawers

This is my late Dad’s cabinet of curiosities. If we ever were at a loss as to what to buy my Dad for Christmas and Birthdays we would buy him an oddity! So there’s a brass pipe cleaner, a leper’s bell, Jew’s harp and lots of items of unknown use and origin! One of the most interesting curiosities is a tiny bottle of wood shards. They come from the foundation log of the Murphy Cabin of the Donner Party. In 1846 an 81 strong party led by George Donner set off on the 2,500 mile trek from Illinois to San Francisco. In the winter of 1847 they were caught in blizzards in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Dying from hypothermia and starvation they resorted to cannibalism. Lots were drawn to see who was going to be the next meals meat! More than 30 people were eaten before the survivors were rescued in the spring. One survivor who boasted about how many people he’d eaten, grew rich in the gold rush and opened a successful restaurant serving “a variety of rare meats”. Wednesday’s macabre tale before we all head off to the butchers!

Photos + Curios

Photos + Curios

Dad's Curios

Dad’s Curios

Donner Shards

Donner Shards

The Sierra Nevada