Heirlooms, in my mind, are the material things we inherit that have stories attached to them. The stories are the real treasures, and the object is just a reminder of the story. My mother gave me several such treasures when I was at her house at Christmas time.
As we were going through boxes one evening, she showed me her sunbonnet from when she was a young girl. As a farmer’s daughter she picked many pounds of cotton wearing this very bonnet. It is a simple flat pattern and the brim was kept stiff with slats of thin cardboard inserted in the pockets.
I asked if I could have it, and she wondered what I wanted it for. “To hang on my kitchen clothesline, of course!” I told her. I have several other small pieces of nostalgia hanging on my kitchen wall, and I thought it would work in perfectly. So she agreed to let me have it. She told me if I ever needed to replace the cardboard in the bonnet, that a cereal box was what to use. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind!
The little child’s apron hanging next to it was also hers, but that’s a story for another day.
I thought I remembered some colored slides of the family working in the field, with the girls wearing their sunbonnets. Turns out, in these pictures they are actually gathering sweet potatoes, not cotton.
The pictures were taken in the 1950s in southwestern Oklahoma.
I appreciate the heritage of a strong work ethic that was passed down in my family… along with the bonnet and the stories.
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