A Baby’s Bed
My Aunt J has been cleaning out her attic. I wish I was there to help her. If I was, we’d go through the boxes and eventually discover something she forgot was there. Then we’d tell stories to each other about the thing we found and what it meant to our family. My Aunt J is the last of the children from my Grandma and Grandpa on my mother’s side. She’s got a treasure trove up there in that attic that she either inherited or was given by many of our relatives. For example, when I found the kraut cutter that had belonged to my great-grandfather that my dad had borrowed to make kraut, it was a momentous occasion. My dad’s wife had passed, and we looked around for it in the old ranch house near Laurel, Iowa, and found it in the laundry room in good condition. It sure did evoke memories. When I look at an old piece, I can imagine the person who originally owned it and see them using it. This is our family’s history personified in an object.
As for Aunt J, she found a baby crib up there in the attic.
She told me the babies that she knows for sure slept in it: Aunt Audrey, Aunt J herself, me, and her two daughters. That’s four generations right there. She thinks some other cousins’ kids used it, too, but she’s not sure who. She’s going to donate it to their local Historical Museum.
There’s nostalgia in the flowers that were painted on the frame. They were painted by my mother when I was born. I think of all the people in our family who are now gone. The baby’s bed reminds me of childhood days swinging on the porch in the sultry Illinois afternoons. Picking blackberries in the gigantic patch between my grandmother’s house and old Mrs. Roberts and trying not to get poked by the bushes. Having a picnic in the yard at my Aunt Leona’s and riding the pony very fast through the corn rows.
I wish the bed was up to the safety standards of today. I would take it for my daughter’s kids to sleep in. It’s over 80 years old and in really good shape. Things were made better then, heavier, and in those days stuff lasted if you took care of it. Not like the modern plastic. No, it was solid wood, turned on a lathe by hand, painted by hand, made one at a time in the U.S.A.