Monday, October 24, 2011

In my grandmother's trunk...

1. I'm beginning a season of sorting and cleaning. Today I worked in what is perhaps my most prized possession. Prized not because it has any monetary value, but because of what it represents. This is the trunk that carried my maternal grandmother's belongings when she immigrated to America from Italy in 1906. You can still see faint vertical lines where the ropes burned into the wood when it was tied and loaded aboard ship. The trunk mostly goes unnoticed where it sits in a corner of our bedroom, but I love it dearly. All morning as I worked, the stories swam around in my head.

2. The odor of mothballs is still very strong even though I've had the trunk for over thirty years. I don't use mothballs but I do like that smell. My mom also used mothballs to store our winter clothing in New York so it reminds me of northern winters, warm clothing, ice skating and Christmas. My grandmother arrived at Ellis Island on December 20, 1906 so I think it's appropriate that the trunk smells like winter.
3. I have no idea when the wallpaper was glued to the interior, but it's very pretty. The cobalt blue part of the design is still so bright. By the end of the morning, I had the trunk emptied out and the master bathroom linen closet also cleaned and sorted!


  1. What a treasure Leonora! You are so blessed to have this legacy. I love the smell of moth balls. My winter mittens and coat always used to smell faintly of them after having been put away for the summer. So yes . . . a great smell of winter. xxoo

  2. That is a definite treasure. I ended up with my grandmother's steamer trunk, too. I knew my mom had it in their storage barn - she considered that it needed to be refinished. So when sis and I cleaned out that barn during the summer of 2010, we found it in the back. I thought it was perfect as is and had someone just clean it up. It sits by my bed now and functions as a bedside table and holds most of my bed linens. I love this the most: it has my grandmother's initials painted on the side "SMA" in a cursive script. She must have used it when she went off to school, around 1920.

  3. Oh my- how fortunate you are to have kept this in the family. It's beautiful. And the stories it must tell... Imagine the excitement she must have felt coming over on a steamer at the turn of the century... :)