Sometimes a thing is just a thing….just a dish, just a book, just a scarf.
But sometimes it’s more.
Sometimes it’s a little piece of history. Sometimes it’s a reminder of where you came from. Sometimes it’s a small part your story, or a momento of someone you love.
Over the summer, Jon and I went on vacation and stopped in Lead, South Dakota, on our way home. I wrote about some of our antiquing finds on the blog already, but I haven’t told you yet about my absolute favorite story that came out of that treasure hunt.
At one of the shops, I picked up an old quart milk bottle. It caught my eye because it still had its original cap, which I’d never seen before. I snatched it up and brought it home.
As with most products I list on my shop, I started with a web search for Miller’s Dairy to see if I could learn a bit more about the bottle. The three-digit phone number dated the bottle cap to the 1930s or 40s, which gave me a little thrill, but the most interesting tidbit in my research came from a four-year-old forum post on Yahoo! Answers.
My grandfather, Don Miller, had a dairy in Spearfish, SD until it burned down. I am looking for any items (bottle caps, photos, bottles, etc…) that would be related to the Miller’s Dairy.
The author of the post included a link to this picture of the old Miller’s Dairy truck:
On the off chance this granddaughter was still using the same email address, I decided to drop her a line and tell her about the bottle. I got a response back within hours from Molly, who was enthusiastic about my note and jumped at the chance to own a piece of her grandpa’s dairy. (Here’s the listing on my Etsy shop, Rosy Blu Vintage, if you want to see more pictures of the bottle.)
Molly and I exchanged a handful of emails, and I couldn’t help asking her to tell me about the farm and what she remembered about her grandfather. The exchange filled my heart, and I’m happy to share her story with you:
“I am not old enough to remember my grandfather’s dairy farm, but I can tell you a little about my grandfather. He is a very quiet man, with a secret smile in the corner of his mouth. Intelligent in a way that doesn’t lend itself well to constant talking, but will shut you up the minute he opens his mouth. He has a million stories, jokes, and memories, that he seldom talks about unless directly asked.
He and I share the same smile.
He’s always been a hardworking man. He served in both WWI and Vietnam, got married, built his own house, raised six children, started his own dairy farm and, when that burned down, started his own lumber business. His wife died several years ago. It was a slow process, during which he cared diligently for her. He hunts deer. For a while, every autumn, we would have a family reunion and my dad and his brothers would go out deer hunting with my grandfather. My sister went as well, as she was old enough to go. I only went once. My grandfather still goes out and cuts wood, despite his age.
Our family reunions were always some of my favorite times. We would eat a feast of game that my relatives had hunted. There is a deck running outside my grandfather’s house, where all the adults would sit and talk, or at the picnic bench underneath the apple tree in their yard, while my siblings, cousins, and I would run around the yard, picking “flowers” (weeds) for my grandmother to proudly display in her kitchen.
One time, for my grandparent’s anniversary, we had a huge dance at the VFW. Because we are such a big family, we filled up the space to a nice, cozy level, and everyone was dancing! We played old 50s music, music that my dad would later play on his turntable on Sunday mornings.
My grandfather lives alone now, in the house that he built a long time ago. He still cuts lumber, and is involved in the VFW. He also spends time traveling around to see all of his kids. He’s always been one of my favorite people, and I’m told I’m a lot like him.
It’s a story that makes me love what I do, when I’m able to play the part of connecting a person with a momento that has true and unique meaning, just for them.
Tell me, friends, have you ever lost and found a piece of your past?