Treasure Chest Thursday is the latest family history series appearing on Indiana Ties. What should be the focus? Valuable artwork? Don’t have any…..Expensive jewelry? Don’t have any….War relics passed down from ancestors? Don’t have any of those either.
But over the past year or so it has occurred to me that there are many valued treasures in our family, even though they may not rate an astonished WOW! on the Antiques Road Show. These items are the ones we save for sentimental reasons. They are books a grandparent kept, the pocket knife or wallet your dad carried, costume jewelry from your aunt, the hand knitted child’s sweater from a friend and just all kinds of mementos we keep in a drawer or the attic. The memories attached to each piece are what it’s all about. I have several of those kind to add to this collection! And I would welcome other family members contributions of a photo and your thoughts. Then, we could all enjoy them together on Indiana Ties. And there’s a bonus -- if something get’s misplaced, at least we will have the memories preserved. Oh well, quit jabbering (as Mom would say). Let’s try creating our Treasure Chest.
I had several options for the first cherished item. How to choose? What better to begin though than with my “Mom’s Way With Words.” I can’t remember when Rosemary Ethel Weber Niehaus wasn’t reading something, usually stories in the Reader’s Digest or articles in two or three magazines, with pages marked. And she always had a dictionary handy. She wanted to learn about whatever unfamiliar term she came across. So it’s no surprise that she had this American Heritage Dictionary with her own homemade cover protecting it. The copyright is 1970 and it is still very helpful when I’m writing and want that old fashioned way of finding a definition quickly.
One of the best parts of this particular treasure is that Rose typed out her own definitions and inserted them, on pieces of 3 x 5 cards, when she didn’t find the definition in this dictionary. Knowing her, she had other books where she found those definitions, but she wanted to have them handy inside this one main reference. Besides, this one is the paperback edition…easy to carry with her.
Here’s an example in one photo where she typed the definition of the term “Oceania.” There are many cards inserted throughout the book, containing the meanings of words such as humanoid, imprest and Tyrrhenian Sea. (“Part of the Mediterranean Sea, between the West coast of Italy and the Islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily.”) On the photo of the outside of the dictionary it shows her front label (still somehow attached with scotch tape), the cover made of a plastic coated, padded material and the alphabet tabs she attached to make it easier to use.
I can’t recall how I came to have this treasure. But I am so glad that I do. I use it often. And I know that my mother’s hands and her caring for words are involved.