In 1904, when my grandmother, Orpha Easton, was 12 years old, her father, Millard Easton, proprietor of a general store in Stinesville, Indiana, set off for the St. Louis World’s Fair. The exposition must have been a grand sight, for many countries built cultural pavilions and massive exhibition halls for the occasion to exhibit the latest goods and merchandise.
A man by the name of George Washington Gale Ferris brought his “observation wheel,” as it had first been known. He erected the Ferris Wheel, which had been constructed for the Chicago Fair a few years earlier. It transported riders to a height of 264 feet, boasted 36 cars that each accommodated 60 people, and weighted 4,200 tons.
So, Great-grandpa Easton went to the fair to view the latest goods and acquire items to sell in his store. While there, he purchased five golden spoons – one for each of his children.
My grandmother grew up and raised two boys. My dad told me how he and his brother fought over the gold spoon, each one wanting to eat with it. What settled the argument, however, was that whoever licked the spoon first and put it by his plate was allowed to eat with the gold spoon for that meal.
My dad and uncle grew up and between them reared five children. We cousins looked forward to Sunday and holiday dinners with Grandma Orpha and Grandpa Charlie in Terre Haute, Indiana. The dispute over the gold spoon continued among the cousins, and was settled in the same manner as it had been for our fathers years earlier.
In 1970, when my grandmother was nearing 80, she came to visit me in San Diego. During that visit, she presented me with the gold spoon because I am her namesake. I was never more thrilled, and I still treasure it to this day.
In 1997, while on a trip to St. Louis, I walked around Forest Park, where the 1904 World’s Fair had been held, trying to imagine the activities, and I visualized my great-grandfather purchasing the spoons. Ah, to have stood there with him would have been a delight, but I cherish the gold spoon as a treasure of his visit.
Read more heirloom stories in Keepsakes Passed Down Through Generations.