Right as Rain

I very rarely have to water my flower and herb gardens. The containers get watered daily and the veggie garden once or twice a week. However we typically get sufficient rain during the spring and early summer months, making additional watering of the gardens unnecessary.

Not so this year! We’ve gone from a cold early spring to a hot and dry late spring. It’s mid June, and yet I’ve already had to water the entire garden three times. Although the dryness is surprising, I’m not really complaining. I’ve enjoyed using a couple of vintage water sprinklers for the first time.

Right as Rain

I brought these two unique old sprinklers home, after Greg’s dad Bob Moore passed away three years ago. We found them in the garage. I don’t remember Dad Moore using the sprinklers, however, he used to have a garden 30 years ago, raising gorgeous tomato plants and rows of green beans. He surely used the sprinklers then.

After I brought the sprinklers home, I kept them with the double intention of displaying them in the garden and using them for the purpose they were made for…watering plants. This season, I’ve done both! The metal sprinklers are on display on the potting table that Greg built for me. And this past week, I’ve tried out both sprinklers.

Right as Rain

The Square Sav-Water Sprinkler was manufactured in the 1930s. The company is no longer in existence. The square base creates stability and makes it easy to move the sprinkler around the garden. The sprinkler head is round and contains many tiny holes. I admit to a sense of child like glee as I attached the garden hose to this sprinkler last week and turned on the water. After a few sputters, as the force of water cleared years of dust from the openings, beautiful life giving water arced into the air and showered down on my thirsty plants. I laughed with delight.

Right as Rain

Right as Rain

The spray covered a surprisingly large area. I was very pleased with this “patent pending” sprinkler.

This evening I tried out the HECO Roselawn Sprinkler. Manufactured in the 1930s as well, this sprinkler came from the Heckethorn Manufacturing Company, located in Littleton, Colorado. The company does not exist there today, although it produced a variety of metal products until the 1950s.

This round sprinkler makes me laugh. It reminds me of a face, or a gas mask. I thought, as I studied the design, that it might put out two streams of water, making it less effective than the square sav-water sprinkler. It worked great, delivering a fine spray of water to the plants in a circular pattern. I was impressed with this sprinkler as well.

Right as Rain

Right as Rain

When I discovered that the sprinklers were made in the 1930s, I asked Greg if they originally belonged to his grandfather, rather than his father. Greg confirmed that.

Grandpa Bill was a gardener later in life. However, as a young man, with a growing family, he worked as a golf course superintendent in Wichita, Kansas, hired by the Wichita Board of Commissioners. He oversaw several of the golf courses in the area, responsible for the greens, grounds and landscaping, designing greens, and monitoring the health and environment of the golf courses. He held this position from the late 1920s to the early 1940s, precisely when those sprinklers were being manufactured.

I’m speculating here, since sadly I can’t ask Bill or Bob, but it is easy to imagine that Grandpa Bill purchased those sprinklers for his personal use, after using them successfully in his work. Or he purchased them from the golf course or they were given to him when new sprinklers were bought to replace them. Greg told me that after the Moores moved to Missouri, Grandpa Bill raised zoysia grass that ended up on several church and funeral home lawns in the county. And, he always had a huge garden. Those sprinklers were in use for many years, before being given to Greg’s dad after Grandpa Bill moved into an assisted living facility.

And now…these vintage sprinklers that are 75+ years old are watering my gardens. I love that they have history and a story. I love that Grandpa Bill used them and Dad Moore used them and now I do. They will pass on to one of my kids someday, whoever inherited a green thumb or at least shows an interest in gardening and growing things.

Give me these unique vintage metal sprinklers any day, over a bright green plastic sprinkler that might last a season or two. These sprinklers will still be watering gardens 75 years from now.

Right as Rain

Aunt Roxie’s Box

I have a chippy red box, that’s been in my possession since 1994. I don’t know the box’s exact age, although I do know its original purpose. The box is rustic and plain, with small nails still evident in the interior, raised slightly out of the wood.

This treasure once belonged to my great great aunt Roxie.

Aunt Roxie’s Box

The box came to me after Aunt Roxie passed away, at the age of 98, in 1994. She lived her entire life in the tiny farm town of Rocky Comfort, Missouri, in McDonald County. She was my paternal grandmother’s aunt, and she played a very significant role in Granny Grace’s life.

When my grandmother was a young girl, the unthinkable happened. Her mother died, of an abscessed tooth, in 1917, leaving behind a husband and two small children. Curtis Hill needed help with his young son and daughter, so his sister, Roxanne Lee Hill, moved in and became a mother to those children. She was only 24 years old.

Aunt Roxie’s Box

Aunt Roxie raised my grandmother and her brother. She never married or had children of her own. Grace and Garland were her children, the children of her heart.

What I remember most about this remarkable, selfless woman was her sense of humor. She had a contagious laugh and found many reasons to express her delight in people and situations. Aunt Roxie was practical and down to earth as well, meaning she knew how to get things done. She was strong, and wiry, and very petite.

Which is where that red box comes into the story. When she sat in an average sized chair, Aunt Roxie’s feet didn’t touch the floor. She made a footrest for herself, out of the box. When I brought the footrest home, after Aunt Roxie’s funeral, it was covered with faded and worn material. There was a bit of padding on top of the box, and the plaid material had been stretched over the top and sides of the footrest and tacked with nails inside the box.

Aunt Roxie’s Box

When I carefully peeled back a corner of the material, I was delighted to see red paint on the sides of the wooden box. I removed the old material and the padding, and flipped the footrest over. I now had a vintage wooden box. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I love decorating and creating vignettes in old wooden boxes.

The box has had a place of honor in my living room, for 24 years. It currently rests on a small wooden bench. I have a couple of mason jars tucked inside, that hold tea light candles, along with dried baby’s breath and fat sticks of cinnamon. At Christmas time the box is the resting place for three quilted fabric trees.

Aunt Roxie’s Box

Aunt Roxie’s Box

I enjoy having this special keepsake. It reminds me of the strength and character of a woman who sacrificed much to care for two motherless children. I know the bond of love that existed between Roxie and my grandmother, Grace, lasted their whole lives. Granny was with Roxie when she passed away.

Her legacy of love and care has passed down through my family, generation by generation. For me that legacy is symbolized by a rustic red box…strong, resilient, and beautifully worn by the passage of time. Aunt Roxie would chuckle that I still have her old footrest and that I’ve found a new use for it. The box, and Aunt Roxie, are precious to me.

Aunt Roxie’s Box

Hello Can You Hear Me?

Tonight’s post is another in my Vintage Stories series. The featured item rests on one of my bedside tables, a unique lamp that did not begin its life as an illuminator. Its original purpose was to magically connect people, allowing them to communicate even though they were miles apart.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

Greg’s dad, Bob, gave me this unusual piece shortly after Leta Moore passed away. My children used to play with the lamp that was a telephone, when they visited their grandparents, talking into the mouthpiece to imaginary friends.

My grandchildren, in turn, played with the lamp. Although to them a phone was a device small enough to fit into their hands, and had fun games downloaded on it, they instinctively knew to place the receiver to their ear and lean forward to speak into the mouthpiece.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

I knew a little bit of history about the lamp. Bob acquired the phone from the Noel Telephone Exchange, in the tiny town of Noel, Missouri, and repurposed it into a lamp, in the late 50s or early 60s. When the receiver is lifted, the lamp lights up. When the receiver is hung up, the light goes off. Clever, huh?

Tonight I removed the lampshade and studied the heavy phone. I was excited to find a company name engraved around the top of the receiver: Stromberg Carlson Telephone Company. I had something I could research! And, engraved on the back of the mouthpiece were these dates: November 26, 1901 March 19, 1907 April 14, 1908 with the additional words, Patent Pending. I’ve never noticed this vital information before. It was time to Google.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

The Stromberg Carlson Telephone Company was founded in 1894, in the US, by Swedish inventors Alfred Stromberg, on the left above, and Androv Carlson, on the right. The company was one of five that controlled the national supply of telephone equipment, until after World War II.

Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent expired in 1894. These enterprising men, employees of American Bell Telephone Company in Chicago, seized an opportunity. Stromberg and Carlson each invested $500 to establish a firm with the purpose of manufacturing telephone equipment to sell to independent telephone companies.

The model I have is a Stromberg Carlson Kellogg Candlestick Telephone, made in 1908. This 110 year old telephone is vintage, indeed!

Hello Can You Hear Me?Stromberg and Carlson are credited with bringing communication to rural America. This advertisement is for one of their wall models.

So how did Bob Moore acquire this old phone? Greg remembered that the Noel Telephone Exchange, which no longer exists, was owned by Fred Cartwright. Back to Google we went, with a Greg now caught up in the hunt for info.

He discovered that the Cartwrights purchased the Noel Exchange in 1947. On May 27, 1955 the Cartwrights installed a dial telephone system in Noel…the first in the county…after losing their contract with Stromberg Carlson in late 1954. The old phones, with ear and mouth pieces, were no longer needed.

The Moores moved to Noel in 1956, after the dial system was installed. Bob and his dad, Bill, opened a drive in, south of Noel, that featured hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. They drew hungry customers from McDonald County and the neighboring Arkansas county of Benton. The Cartwrights were patrons of Moore’s Drive-In. At some point, Fred gave, or sold, one of the old Stromberg Carlson phones to Bob.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

The part of the story that I don’t know is how Bob came up with the repurposing idea. Greg, who was just a toddler when his family moved to Noel, can’t remember the transformation from phone to lamp. He and I both believe Bob did the work.

We had Dad Moore with us for a good long time. He passed away three years ago, at the grand age of 94. I talked with him for hours, in his twilight years, as we sat together in his porch swing. I tried to ask him the questions that I knew I’d want answers to later. However, I did not at that time know what I was leaving unanswered. Why didn’t I ask him to tell me again the story of the telephone lamp?

The lamp sends a soft glow into my room at night, chasing away darkness. I think of Bob and Leta Moore when I look at the lamp, and I think of my kids and grandkids who have playfully enjoyed the lamp as well. It sparked their imagination, as it has mine. And apparently, long ago, the telephone inspired Bob as well.

In its former life, the lamp was a communication device, allowing people to talk…and ask questions…across great distances. Perhaps as I lean in close to the mouthpiece, I can ask Bob about creating the lamp. Hello, can you hear me? I will listen for a reply.

Hello Can You Hear Me?