78 - SMALL THINGS

From A Storied Life,an audio/blog created for family, friends and perfect strangers
located at http://www.soniabrock.com/
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A Roman Dagger
My father brought back a few things from Britain after the War. He was in what became the RAF in WW1. One of the things he brought back was a Roman dagger, which was much corroded and with no handle, just a tang
(A tang is the projection on the blade of a tool such as a knife, by which the blade is held firmly in the handle)
The dagger is lost now. I would have liked to have used it as an Athane, a ritual dagger not used as a weapon but as a magical tool.
If blooded, it might not have been suitable. I am sure such a use was far from the mind of the artisan or soldier that lost it.

An Ivory Crocodile
My Aunt Gertie had a little pencil holder that was quite a conversation piece.
I think it was originally meant for keeping score in a card game, possibly for Bridge.
The piece consisted of an ivory crocodile whose open jaws held the head of a small negro boy.
When you pulled on the head it proved to be attached to a very small pencil.
As a child I was fascinated by the complacently smiling head and how it could be pulled out of the croc's jaws to reveal the pencil.
This piece, while in no way politically correct, would still, if I knew where it was, gain a good price on eBay.


The List
I was doing a lot of cross stitch and commercial framing of finished pieces is expensive.
I decided to start doing my own framing and bought a few how-to books. Then, I went to a yard sale locally and, by golly, there was a whole box of used frames which I promptly bought. I noticed that the old faded picture in an one 8x10Ē frame had a Jewish theme.

I took the framing assembly apart and found, on the reverse of the picture a long list of names of relatives who had perished in the Holocaust. Saddened, I knew I could not throw this memorial away, so I made it the backing for a finished cross stitch picture. They were not my relatives nor my history but the list remains. Hidden but present in my mind behind the cheerful cross stitch piece..


Kim
A book, is something you can hold in your hand, words from over a century ago can affect you in the present tense.
I was enchanted by Kipling's Kim as a teenager. Later in life, I read it aloud to my daughter, a chapter a night and, perhaps influenced by the Tibetan Buddhist holy man therein, she became a Buddhist nun. The book is set after the 2nd Afghan War from 1878 to 1880. Today we are still hearing the echoes from this war.
My mind still takes me to Kiplling's India and the Grand Trunk Road. Kim was Irish by birth but a child of India and carried the British Raj and the spirit of Tibetan mysticism in one small body.

The Ring
From Karin:
She writes: I have a plain gold band, a ring of 22 karats, originally from England. This ring belonged to my Nana, my grandmother who left this earth at the age of 99. She was my Dad's mother. My father, Alan, passed away when I was six.
Nana wore this soft, gold ring every day to scrub floors, do laundry, and all other needful chores.
I wear it proudly every day because it brings me back to my childhood and my family in those times. It reminds me of my roots, sharing my memories of days gone by.
When your parents and grandparents leave and you have no siblings, the past is there but like a dream. There is no-one to say "Do you remember when?"
When my first daughter was born, I named her Alana after my Dad. My wonderful Nana held my three month old daughter, just before she died.
Nanaís ring will be my daughter's, all itís family memories to be passed in time to her own daughter.
My hope is that, even if it brings a just a fleeting moment of memory to each of them, it will remain a family treasure.

The Blackthorn Walking Stick (Shillelagh)
I have a blackthorn walking stick. The thorns are smoothed in the process of finishing and sanding a walking cane shaft, but the dark wood thorns,even when smoothed, still are capable of doing a damage.
Someone attacked my dad with it when he was posted over in Ireland in the British Army in WWI during the time of The Troubles (the Irish Rebellion).
He took the stick from his attacker.This shillelagh even when one hundred years old remains a rather deadly weapon.

I've got the walking stick, with the blackthorns sticking out of it, hanging on my wall, a bit cracked from age. My dad used it as a cane in later years because he had a war injury that he got in WWII.


A Golden Brooch
From: Uwe
His family in Germany during the Nazi era possessed a $25 U.S. gold coin of 24 carats.
Under the Nazis it was forbidden to own foreign currency, especially gold coins. I assume this was because such items were of special use to those who might want to flee from Germany

The familyís coin was taken to a Jewelers to have a brooch fastening applied to it's back. Thus making it a piece of jewelry and not a coin. He has has this coin still and shudders to think that its discovery might have led to a severe fine or worse.

Related to this, his well-to-do family had an imported American Oldsmobile car. It was confiscated and his father, who had to enlist, was made the chauffeur, in this same car, for Nazi officers carousing in venues he used to frequent.


An Old Violin
From: Marion
A merchant ship docked in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, sometime in the 1850ís. The men aboard had been at sea for two years and expected a big payday on docking. For one reason or another the payday was not there.
An Italian crew member, desperate for funds, hocked his old and treasured violin, promising to return for it. When after 3 years he had not returned the violin was sold to the family of a small girl who was destined to be a fine violinist in the classical music tradition.

The old violin has stayed with her and has been played by her since the age of 5 all over the years to the present time. Even today she has a four piece band and they play all over Toronto to entertain seniors.
She has never had the old violin appraised. Now, aged 89 she still marvels at this instrument and its place in her life.
Inside the violin is a faintly marked indication that it was made some time in the 1700s. It is hoped that itís long history will continue.
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The 1700s were a prime time for violin making in Italy by such makes as Stradivarius, Guarneri del Gesu, etc.