The Wooden Shoes

During World War II, a young American soldier dozed in Holland. He was exhausted from building bridges to aid the movement of troops, and rebuilding those bridges when they were destroyed.

He stirred from his slumber, awakened by a clip clop sound that drew closer and closer. A woman walked by, wearing wooden clogs. Enchanted, he purchased a small pair of wooden shoes to take home as a gift to his little niece, Patty Jean.

The Wooden Shoes

Young Patty had recently lost her father in a tragic accident. That man was the soldier’s older brother. The soldier, whose name was Lloyd, was determined to get safely home and deliver the clogs to his niece, who always called him Aunt Lloyd, instead of Uncle. He wanted to see her face brighten with a smile, and ease her sadness.

Lloyd did indeed make it home from the war, after serving his country with bravery and honor. And he gave Patty Jean the brightly colored wooden shoes, which she loved.

That little girl was my mother.

The Wooden Shoes Uncle Lloyd, looking handsome in his uniform.

The Wooden Shoes Patty Jean holding the flowers, age four, and her little brother Benny.

I’ve heard the story about my grandfather’s untimely death many times. His truck slid off an icy road and into a pole. He left behind a young wife and three small children. And just as many times, I’ve heard the story of the wooden shoes that “Aunt” Lloyd brought home from Holland.

Those clogs brought great joy to that little girl, during a difficult and confusing time. My mother loved the shoes so much that she cared for them and took them wherever she went. How many moves did those shoes make, long after my mother outgrew them? How many shelves have they rested upon?

My sisters and I wore those shoes when we were little, clip clopping with delight through our childhood home. Our children wore them too, our daughters and our sons, when they were small and visited their grandmother. And when my mother moved for a time, to Mesa, Arizona, the wooden shoes came to live with me.

The Wooden Shoes

The Wooden Shoes

The shoes have always been on display in my home. When my children were still young we followed the Dutch tradition at Christmas time, filling the shoes with tiny wrapped gifts, candy canes, and poinsettia blossoms. The wooden clogs remain a part of my Christmas decor each year. Now I simply light a tea light candle in a red and green ceramic holder and place it near the shoes.

My grandchildren were the next generation to clip clop around the house in the wooden shoes, which are now faded with the passing of time. What joy those shoes still bring. Uncle Lloyd, who is gone, would be thrilled to know that his gift has brightened so many lives.

The Wooden Shoes

In stories, shoes are often imbued with magic. Cinderella left her distressing life behind, thanks to a pair of glass slippers. A little girl named Karen couldn’t stop dancing in her red shoes. And Dorothy discovered at the end of the yellow brick road that her shoes had the power to take her home all along.

My mother’s wooden shoes are magical too. They are enchanted with love…the affection of an uncle for his niece, and the adoration of a little girl, who missed her daddy, and looked up to the man who so reminded her of him.

That love has remained within those clogs for almost 75 years. And every pair of feet that slid into the shoes experienced joy as they clopped around, their hearts surrounded by love as surely as their feet were encased in wood.

What a legacy, Uncle Lloyd, your kindness created. Someday another generation of children will dance in those clogs, and hear the story of the wooden shoes.

The Wooden Shoes

Vintage Spring Vignette

Today’s bright spring weather deteriorated this afternoon, as the wind picked up and temperatures plummeted. I had begun resetting the front porch, changing the d├ęcor over to spring. Driven indoors, yet undeterred, I switched my efforts to creating fresh spring vignettes. 

Vintage Spring Vignette

A vignette is made by grouping items together to create a pleasing arrangement or to tell a story. This is a high level of playing for me. Using a mix of old and new pieces, keepsakes and sale items from craft stores, putting together a vignette is like working a puzzle without knowing what the finished picture looks like. 

The creation process is done by trying out various pieces and moving them around until I am satisfied. I enjoy using what I have on hand and rarely buy new items to complete a display. While I put a great deal of thought into this form of artistic play, I stay open to inspiration and Divine guidance. 

That state of openness brought about today’s chain of events. 

Vintage Spring Vignette
On the little table by the front door, I created an Easter themed vignette on the top surface. This display is similar to the one I put together last year, using vintage hankies formed into rosettes and a couple of porcelain pieces from Greg’s mother Leta. 

As I studied the table’s empty bottom shelf, I decided to create a totally new vignette. The fun began. 

I quickly selected several other small porcelain Easter pieces that also belonged to Greg’s mother. Rummaging in my closet, where keepsakes and craft supplies are stored, I deliberated between a dark green taper and a burgandy one. The burgandy candle brought out the same darker color painted on the rabbit candle holder and the little bunny bell. Perfect. 

Vintage Spring Vignette
That color proved to be significant. As I tried out other items with the trio of Easter pieces, I kept getting a “no”.  Nothing was coming together. Standing quietly, allowing ideas to flow to me, I saw in my mind a plate in the empty corner, resting on a stand. But which plate? The burgandy candle was sparking a memory. I had a plate with that color on it. 

Vintage Spring Vignette
In a drawer, carefully swaddled in bubble wrap, I uncovered the plate. My heart rate increased, alerting me that I was headed in the right direction. This plate has a hand written note on the back. Walter Davidson, born in 1880, was Leta’s father. He gave the plate to Leta’s mother, Ada Barnes, before they were married. 

Researching the mark on the back, I discovered the keepsake is a rare, Prussian made Royal Rudolstadt Beyer & Boch floral plate, approximately 110 years old. I almost wrapped the plate back up, to return it to the drawer for safekeeping. But that’s not me. I like to carefully display and use items. What joy do these treasures bring, hidden away in a drawer? 

Vintage Spring Vignette
I completed the spring vignette, using Walter’s gift to Ada, and it looks beautiful. I gaze at the plate and tremble a bit, because…110 years old! I’ll leave it on display for a short time, before returning the plate to its protective cocoon. 

As so often happens, I am amazed and delighted at the way the Divine invites me to play. However, the wonder didn’t stop there. 

Vintage Spring Vignette
Pictured above are Walter and Ada Davidson, photographed in the late 1930s. They are Leta’s parents, Greg’s grandparents and our children’s great-grandparents. Years ago, as we researched Greg’s family history, we could find very little about Walter. We knew his parents were born in England and nothing more…no names, dates or siblings. 

Searching for Walter and Ada’s wedding date online, I came across info on ancestry.com.uk that led me to Walter and his parents. Excited, but needing to write a blog post, I turned the search over to Greg. Amazingly, in a short amount of time, he found Walter’s parents and their parents, all born in England. 

In addition, Walter’s brother, Alvin Davidson, moved to Joplin, Missouri, by 1921 at least, as he lost two young children here that year. Alvin and all three of his children are buried in Joplin. We will be visiting their graves. 

How incredible. What began as an afternoon of creating spring vignettes using vintage items became an unexpected pathway to discovering new family members, and new stories. 

Walter’s gift to Ada opened that door. I am grateful…and excited to see where this journey leads. 

Vintage Spring Vignette

Surrender 53: Saying Goodbye to Papa and Mimi’s House

Today my son Nate had the opportunity to join his dad and me at the house in Arkansas. Because he had to work Saturday, he was unable to join his sisters on that day, as they walked through their grandparents’ house, selecting momentos to take home. They graciously allowed their brother the opportunity to visit, before claiming anything else. 

 

As it was with the girls, it was interesting to quietly follow Nate as he moved from room to room. The house is full of stuff, and yet empty, missing the bright sparks of life that were Papa and Mimi to Nate and Elissa and Adriel. Memories linger there though. My son smiled as he picked up items that stirred recollections from his childhood. 

Although he selected several small figurines for his kids, his focus was on photos, such as the one posted above. Nate and his sisters were frequent visitors to the hangar containing the small airplanes that Papa Bob flew for Peterson’s. They had fun climbing into the cockpits and pretending to fly. Their vivid imaginations took them around the world. 

  
And Nate sorted through stacks of sheet music for piano. Mimi Leta was a gifted pianist, who passed her musical ability on to her grandson and younger granddaughter. Nate has her piano already, in his house, and today he collected an assortment of music to take home as well. Some of that music is vintage, as Leta played the piano in various churches throughout her life, from the age of 16 onward. 

  
Saturday Elissa found this scrap of paper, with a drawing by 5 year old Nate. She snapped a pic and sent it to her brother, with the remark that his artistic ability had certainly improved! We looked at the little sketch today. I will save it, as Papa Bob apparently did. He and Mimi Leta kept artwork from their grandkids. They are more than kids’ drawings, they tell stories. They capture a moment in time as accurately as a photograph does. 

 Nate’s latest drawing, given as a gift to his wife. 

I enjoyed spending a good portion of the day with my son, as I did Saturday with my daughters and their sweethearts. As we prepared to leave, Nate asked if he could first walk around outside the house. “It may be the last time I see this place,” he quietly explained. I let him walk around, accompanied by his dad, while I closed up the house. 

Nate’s words made me aware of the reality of what’s happening. In the midst of sorting and packing, tossing and keeping, laughing and remembering…and preparing to sell the house…I’ve overlooked the fact that it will be gone soon. This house. This place of memories. My children and I never knew any of the other houses that Bob and Leta Moore lived in. This was home. 

Soon memory will be all we have of this place, and those years of being together here. Except for the photos. Except for the momentos and the few pieces of furniture that have gone to new homes. I’m so grateful that those cherished items will carry memories forward, and that the stories around them will continue to be told. I’m especially grateful for my beautiful children, who have a rich appreciation for family history and the desire to hold it close….and then pass it on.