My recent adventure begins while I was driving near my house; I stopped at a yard sale, a pretty white cottage I had admired in my neighborhood. I was looking for antiques and vintage items and I was excited and hopeful I would find some treasures. It was a bit disappointing but one box intrigued me. It was a small box of old ribbons. I paid the full price of $10.00 and told the woman how I had admired her home. She thanked me but offered no words about the box. A few days later I opened the box again and noticed a note inside which read “Old Time Ribbons, Grace Lyons Kirkland, hat millinery Bloomfield Indiana”. I knew the ribbons were very old and suddenly I visualized Grace in her hat shop. A shop surrounded by straw hats, bolts of fabric, satin, lace, and velvet ribbons. It felt strange to touch the ribbons, I thought about time travel, imagining and wishing that by just rubbing the soft velvet that I could be transported back to the 1800s. I wondered about Grace, so I Googled her name and there she was – listed in the cemetery in Springfield, Oregon.
A few days later my daughter Juliette and I went to the old Laurel Grove cemetery to look for Grace’s grave. I was especially curious about the fact Grace died in 1898 at only 40. We searched for an hour and only found her husband Arthur Kirkland’s headstone but no sign of Grace. Disappointed and driving home, my daughter, glancing up from her phone, suddenly burst out “I found the sister, she’s buried by her sister! Turn around, Mom, we have to go back!”
So, I turned the car around, we hiked up the hill again, this time looking for the Lyon’s family plot. After another hour only Grace’s mother and brother were to be found. I wondered if she might be buried under the exquisite white rose-bush near her brother’s grave; it had piercing thorns but a magnificent smell. Grace was the first in her immediate family to die; she died before her husband, mother, sisters, and brother. In my mind, I pictured a monumental headstone – an angel crying with huge wings that a thief may have carted off. Her husband was a wealthy stockman who refused flowers at his funeral. I wondered if he was still brooding over the death of his beloved wife as he died at the young age of 52. How could his headstone be so substantial, yet nothing for Grace?
I researched millinery shops, hats of the same era and the city that Grace lived in Bloomfield, Indiana. In the 1870s, hats were worn hung to the side, draped with silk or velvet ribbons. It was said a woman wouldn’t be caught dead without her hat. The purchase of a custom-made hat would be something that most women would have to save up for, as it would have been a substantial sum, beautiful adornments of velvets, lace and satins came in exquisite colors to set off the wearer’s eyes and frame the face. French ribbons were of such value that they might be recycled, taken from the wealthy woman’s outcast and saved for a less fortunate woman who could not afford the luxury of a beautiful new hat but still grateful for someone else’s hand-me-downs.
I decided to go back to the little white house, hopeful for answers about Grace. There, standing on the front porch watering flowers with her perfectly coiffed hair was a pretty petite woman. I approached her with a smile and blurted out my story of the ribbons. She welcomed me into her home and told me her name is Theda, named after Theda Bara. I chuckled to myself as she told me how her dad named her after the Hollywood Vamp and she wondered if I had heard of the famous film star. I told her I had and we proceeded to have a fabulous afternoon reveling in conversation about her antique acquisitions.
But disappointment again set in regarding the box of ribbons. According to Theda, she had acquired those years ago at a yard sale. She told me how she had a craft store at one time and that’s why she purchased the old box of ribbons. At 89 years old, Theda is still quite sharp in her thinking. She showed me photos of her husband (who was the love of her life), her children, and fabulous paintings adorning the walls that she herself had painted when her eyesight was a bit better.
Years ago someone had carefully penned Grace’s brief story on a note and placed inside the box, hopeful that someone might treasure the ribbons also. Now, over 100 years have gone by and, to some, this story may sound silly. After all, they’re just ribbons — but that box of ribbons brought together two like-minded women to share their stories. And funny enough, I have a five-foot painting of Theda Bara in my home!
reblogging from a past post. xo Val
Hi Everyone! I’ve had this trunk for over 20 years but It’s been in storage. This summer my family brought it to me to open. I did a video of opening it, it’s on my Instagram. I wanted to share with you the items because it came from an estate in Princeton, New Jersey. Some of the items in the trunk date back to the 1800’s I’ve included the story written by William Baillie of the Herring family. It’s such an amazing find!
A Bloomsburg Boy
Makes the Big Time
Sometimes an unremarkable child of Columbia County has achieved great things in
the wider world as an adult. Such stories are, in a way, part of our county’s history.
Since we are again in football season, it is appropriate to tell one such story that hinges
on outstanding success on the gridiron.
Donald Grant “Heff” Herring was born September 6, 1886, at Bloomsburg, the son
of one of the best-known attorneys in Columbia County. The Herrings were one of
the old county families—Donald’s immigrant great-grandfather had settled in
Orangeville in 1800. His grandfather served as president of Bloomsburg’s town
council and treasurer of Columbia County. His father served in Pennsylvania
Donald was educated in the Bloomsburg public schools, including some years at
Bloomsburg High School beginning in the eighth grade. He was instrumental in
organizing the high school’s first football team in 1899, a story he told decades later
in his book titled Forty Years of Football. (See excerpts from that book in “Bush
League Football” on page 1.)
Herring went on to prep school at Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he
participated in several sports. He was amazed at the difference in the game of
football when played with proper equipment, coaches, and referees.
He entered Princeton in 1903 and immediately tried out for football. For his
freshman and sophomore years he played on the junior varsity team, but in 1905
and 1906 he played tackle and center on the varsity squad. For the 1906 season, he
was named an All-American. He was known as a fearsome blocker and tackler in an
era which produced the 1905-06 “crisis” in intercollegiate football. Because of the
rough nature of the sport and its increasing commercialization, Columbia University
and a score of other colleges dropped the sport, and many other campuses, including
Harvard and Princeton considered doing so. The furor led to the creation of the
National Collegiate Athletic Association and the introduction of a new set of rules for
college football. Herring played in the last days of the “no-holds-barred” brand of
collegiate football—and was among the best of his era.
In 1905 Princeton organized its first varsity wrestling team, with Heff Herring as a
prominent member. In the second year of varsity competition, Herring won the
national intercollegiate heavyweight wrestling championship in record time, downing
one opponent in sixteen seconds and another in thirteen. He was a dapper
heavyweight, appearing at professional wrestling matches in Newark sporting tails,
white tie, and top hat.
Herring excelled also outside sports. At Princeton, he was a member of the senior
council and of many of the upper-class organizations, and he was master of
ceremonies at his class commencement in 1907. As a senior, he won Princeton’s first
Rhodes scholarship for graduate study at Merton College, Oxford University.
At Oxford he entered whole-heartedly into athletics; he made a name for himself
at cricket, hockey, and hammer-throwing, and was the first American to play on the
Oxford University rugby team. That rugby fifteen beat arch-rival Cambridge by the
then-record score of 35 to 3. A letter to the Varsity, a sports paper in Oxford,
reviewed Herring’s stellar career at Princeton and Oxford, and he was even
caricatured in a cartoon in The Tatler, an English sporting magazine. Meanwhile, he
created something of a sensation in America by stating in a 1910 letter to The Daily
Princetonian that British rugby football was a better game than the American version.
This opinion derived probably from his love of rough contact—he was never known as
a gentle footballer!
He received his Master’s degree from Oxford in 1910 and returned to Princeton,
where his alma mater hired him to teach English. Soon he was hired also as a sports
writer for the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and not long afterward he became its editor.
He was famed as a sports reporter whose opinions were widely quoted. He even was
featured—for his sartorial splendor and his unrestrained predictions—in a doggerel
a poem, an account of the 1922 football game at Stagg Field in Chicago which ended in
the score, Princeton 21, Chicago 18:
Heff Herring’s trick hosiery dazzles the eye
As he mounts to the Press Stand the game to espy.
Though dazzling his calves, quite glum is his glance—
In the Weekly, he’s stated we haven’t a chance.
(A footnote to this stanza calls Herring “The only professional pessimist whose
writings are universally enjoyed.”)
In 1912 he was one of five graduates of Old Nassau appointed to Princeton’s
Football Advisory Committee, with authority over the university’s football program.
During World War I Herring won a commission as 1st Lieutenant in the 94th Aero
Squadron, a small group of pilots that included America’s top ace in the War, Eddie
Rickenbacker. They flew many missions over enemy lines in France in their fragile
Spad aircraft. The Spad was a French-built biplane that was faster than other
fighters at the time but was less maneuverable and more difficult to fly. When he
died, Herring held the rank of Colonel, retired, U.S.A.F.
In 1910 Herring had married Jessie Markham of Wheeling, West Virginia, whom
he had met through his sister. The couple, after a year’s engagement, decided to get
married while they were shopping in New York City and were quietly married at the
Little Church Around the Corner. In 1919 Herring and his wife bought land outside
Princeton which they intended for an equestrian estate; they named it “Rothers
Barrows.” They built an “extraordinarily elegant stone house” designed by noted
architect Wilson Eyre in the Arts & Crafts style. Eyre also designed the landscaping
in the “Chestnut Hill” style characterized by native trees; there was a stone-walled
sunken terrace, a croquet lawn, and for the horses a show ring and barn and a 960-
yard race track. Although the building plan was not completed due to limited funds,
the Herrings moved in after World War I and the home became a noted hospitality
center of the Princeton area. In 1992 the estate was designated a Historic Site by
Mr. and Mrs. Herring were featured often on the Society pages of Trenton and
area newspapers and occasionally in the New York Times. Both were in the wedding
party, for example, when the University President’s daughter married a faculty
member in 1915. In 1924 the Trenton paper printed a “charming portrait” of the
Herring family: Heff and Jessie with their four children “spending the winter at
Lausanne, Switzerland, where the children are attending school.”
Tragedy later struck the family. Their only son, Donald G. Herring Jr., followed
his father’s footsteps into a starring role on the Princeton football team. But in
1940—the year Donald Sr. published Forty Years of Football —the son was seriously
injured in a game against Brown University and had to have his lower leg amputated.
The incident generated sympathy for the family across the nation and led to the
family being awarded the first annual Amos Alonzo Stagg Award for “outstanding
services in the advancement of the best interests of football.” Two years later Donald
Jr.’s youngest sister was killed in Wyoming when she fell into a canyon in a
snowstorm; she was twenty-two years old.
The Bloomsburg boy who made it big through football did not return to Columbia
County. His father’s family had moved to Sunbury, Pennsylvania, where Grant was
named to a judgeship. At retirement, Donald went to live in North Carolina and died
there. But for years Columbia County followed with interest the career of a native
son who “made it” in big-time college sports.
It’s hard to know exactly how many were made because Tiffany lamps were so out of favor during the 1940s that people were taking the shades out in the streets and hammering out the glass and then selling the lead for scrap. We have no idea how many lamps were destroyed or just thrown away during that time. The lamps were just not considered tasteful in the late Art Deco period. It’s amazing how many people I meet who say, “We used to have a lamp. We never liked it. We sold it at a garage sale.” I’m sure a vast amount of them were destroyed.
I would say my most rare dress is my patchwork calico hooded Gunne Sax. These hooded Gunne Sax are the rarest. It’s very funny because I’ve had this same hooded dress twice! The first time I found it I was in a local thrift store and it was a size 5. I ended up selling it because it was just too tight for me and I remembered how much I regretted it and then Alas! I found the same dress again online in my size! I suppose it was meant to be. I will keep collecting them, wearing them, taking photos in them. I always hope there will be a Gunne Sax Craze because these dresses and the stories behind them are just magical. 🙂 Jess
We’ve been all over the place lately looking for treasures! Here’s a few pics for inspiration. Vintage Shopping; Visit Eugene, and the Oregon Coast. xo
#GunneSax #Vintage Turquoise # AntiqueClocks #OregonCoast #VintageShopping #FlorenceOregon
Betty Lou the car. xo
Click on the video.
Here’s the loot I bought, old sterling powder box with mirror, Ghurka address book in the box and vintage earrings sterling with malachite. 🙂
I almost forgot about this story until I realized I was saving some of these magnificent watercolors to mail to friends for Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!!
Per FB “The 80 yr old watercolor artist from Oregon who’s work mysteriously wound up at Goodwill. # Goodwillfinds. I had to photograph as many as I could because they’re amazing! $4.99-$15.99 (poster size). ” FB September 11, 2018
*After making a post on my FB wall I later found out that Jean Fredrickson past away here in Oregon, she was in her 90’s. Jean was an interior decorator in Pacific Grove California. She spent many years painting while living in a magnificent Victorian perched high on a hill a stone’s throw from the beach. She traveled the world with her husband who also loved to paint, but with oils. I wish I could have met Jean, her artwork speaks volumes! Some of her work is from Ireland, I wonder if we went to the same places me and Jean…
Thank you, Jean, for your lovely work!! I met your beautiful daughter and I’m sharing your story with my friends as well as displaying your paintings! xo
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