Renovation & Design

Treasures a happy reminder

Family memories live in old keepsakes

Photos by Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Knick-knacks and hand-me-downs sit in a cabinet, ready to one day be passed down to the grandkids.

Not everyone has one of these. A treasure cabinet.

But I do, a few of us sentimental folk do, and it contains treasures of not monetary, but emotional and nostalgic value. And how do you put a price on that?

I think these treasures are important to have, and to hand down someday. I hope someone will want to keep them in the family after I croak, hopefully still "down the road a piece," although no doubt there will be a whittling down.

Both my parents had a place in their heart, and drawer or cupboard, for keepsakes that tied them lovingly to their past. One of my mom’s was a gold ring she got when her mom passed, the ring containing hair weaved through a hollow core, hair that I believe came from my great-grandma, given to my grandma, Mary Lyle (née Baird), when she came to Canada from Scotland in 1914.

It sure would be interesting if a DNA search could be accomplished with a strand or two of hair. It would be fascinating to follow my family roots directly back through my great-grandma of Wishaw, Scotland.

Maybe I’ll look into it. Grandma Lyle was originally going to come to Canada on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, but that got postponed for some reason. Good thing, I think, or you might not be reading this column today.

I keep not only family history in my cabinet, but historical memorabilia I’ve gathered as well, one being a tube of Brylcreem.

Why? Because it came in a tube identical to a toothpaste tube, and it was the gooey hair cream men used to create that early Elvis look. My older brother used it, I was right on the edge of being inducted into the hall of grease when The Beatles came along and freed us from this nightmare goop that soiled pillows and collars all across the land.

I accidentally cleaned my teeth with my brother Bob’s Brylcreem one day and, thanks to this tube I have, I can show my grandchildren just how horrible a taste experience that was. I bet they’re really looking forward to it.

One of my favourite historical finds kept in my cabinet (discovered in the bottom of an old cook stove) is an old can of Chateau Quebec. "A cool mellow pipe tobacco" it claims on the can, which sold for 55 cents way back when. The reason I love this? It’s FULL and, to this day, smells absolutely fabulous. Now there’s a scent that takes you back to visits with the older relatives, and my dad even smoked a pipe some before he quit all forms of inhaling smoke at 50 years old.

A pleasant sensory reminder of some wonderful family times.

And, of course, being a Mustard, how could I not hold onto an old chrome car dealership tag from Ham Motors, of Swift Current. No, I don’t eat ham, but I am one, so the connection, and the fact that it’s REAL CHROME makes it a perfect match for me.

My dad always loved photography and, not only do I have one of his old cameras in my treasure chest, but also tins of undeveloped negatives that I must get developed some day. I’ve had a few done and so far they’re mostly of dad and his young adult buddies out cavorting around the countryside (cars and picnics) with some of their pretty girlfriends. Really neat stuff.

And fortunately, because I took a close-up look at the cabinet’s contents to write this column, I discovered some historical memorabilia I don’t have any hook to — some old railroad books and things I picked up over the years. I will soon gladly be passing those along to the Prairie Dog Central Railway folk.

There is some family memorabilia I admit I don’t know what to do with... kept in a big plastic tub (with a lid), including doilies probably made by my Grandma Lyle, a belt and a tie of dad’s, some of his socks and, yes, a number of his million-times washed handkerchiefs, a staple of his generation.

There are also tea towels and cloth napkins and other dining-related items that I’ve seen and used during many family dinners and gatherings over the years, and I guess I can just put what’s still usable in the mix with what I currently use.

I can give the belt and the socks to the grandkids, they’ll fit them... but what to do with those handkerchiefs? They bring back so many memories, visuals of my dad reaching into his back pocket to pull one out for a good honk.

A question many of you are probably thinking: "Laurie, you want to keep some old cloths your dad only used to blow his nose into?"

Hey, he cleaned his glasses with them, too.


I know. I know. Still...

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