Vintage Christmas- Part Two

  I’m stepping back in time a good 45 years today.  Choir candles like these, as well as some taller ones, and a few with black cassocks (the colored part of the choir robe), were neatly arranged on our dining room buffet, as if they were processing to the little church.  My mom told my friends, cousins, and me not to mess with the candles or move them around.  But, it was just too tempting.  Once the adults went into another part of the house, the kids went to town, playing with the candles.  We marched them around and sang Christmas carols using fake vibrato voices.

Years later, as an adult, I was helping my mother decorate for Christmas, and couldn’t find the candles.  I asked where they were and was told they were too shabby to use any longer.  They’d been thrown away.  The whole scene had been replaced by an newer, glitzier Christmas village.   I wasn’t really happy about that.  A big part of my childhood Christmas decor was gone.  

Fast forward to just a few years ago.  I was flipping through The Vermont Country Store’s Christmas catalog, thinking I’d pitch it into the recycling bin.  Suddenly, I saw them….. my choir candles… They were only available in the small size, and only with red cassocks, but still… candles.  So, I ordered some,  and when they came, arranged them in my own small village, snapped a few pictures, and posted them on Facebook. 

The response was huge, both among old friends and relatives who’d been at my childhood home at Christmas, and newer friends. Many people remembered the candles, or had some just like them in their own childhood homes.  And some of those Facebook friends were among those who snuck into the dining room after being told not to mess with the candles. 

Sometimes the simple things are the best.  I, along with a few friends and relatives, have the fondest memories of a very non-elaborate Christmas activity.  Here’s to good Christmas memories….or the new ones we may make today!  

By the way, I’m not affiliated with, nor did I receive any compensation from The Vermont Country Store.  Even if only two or three of you read this, I’m supposed to state that it information.


Vintage Christmas- Part One

As a child, I was curious about some of the older ornaments that graced our Christmas tree each year.  My mother told me they were purchased during the years following World War II (my parents got married in 1946) and were not expensive as there was no money for elaborate decorating.  Now that those ornaments hang on my tree, I decided to do some research.   

I didn’t find anything out about the new plastic ornaments, but I did learn that Germany and Japan were major producers of glass ornaments prior to World War II.  Of course, once the war started, glass ornaments from those countries were no longer imported to the a United States.  Following the war, Corning became a major producer.  When I looked at images of of the ornaments online, many were displayed in Woolworth boxes.  There was a Woolworth store in downtown Columbia, so mine could have come from there.  

The colors in my glass ornaments have faded.  Because I have an abundance of ornaments on my tree, I display some of the glass ones in a bowl.  Perhaps I’ll pass a couple of them on to my sons when they have homes of their own.

This last ornament was bought in Colonial Williamsburg in the early 1970s. At one time, there were several of these, but this is the only one remaining.  I was in Williamsburg just before Christmas last year and didn’t see anything like this.  I haven’t done any research on this style or ornament, and have no idea if it’s very collectable, but it’s another reminder of the past that will remain on my tree for years to come.

Three Clemson Cadets

 Here are three cadets from what was then called Clemson Agricultural and Mechanical College, circa 1913.   One of them may have been my paternal grandfather.  I’ve found several photos taken at Clemson during my grandfather’s time there, but none were labeled.  I recognize the buildings in those photos, but couldn’t tell you which, if any of the people were my grandfather.  Most of the people who could have told me are no longer with us.

This is not the only group of pictures I’ve found that weren’t labeled.  Most of those photos, I’m sure, are around 100 years old. I don’t think I know anyone left who can help me identify anyone.

The obvious lesson here is that pictures should be labeled.  I’ve not always done such a good job with that with my own photos.  But, now is the time to start.

Travel Tuesday- Thomas Wolfe Boyhood Home Asheville, NC


Several weeks ago, I had an opportunity to tag along with my husband on a work trip to Asheville, NC.  As we were walking from the hotel to a restaurant for dinner, we passed the Thomas Wolfe Boyhood Home.  I’d toured the house many (I hate to think how many) years ago on a class field trip when I was in high school.  I knew the house was in downtown Asheville, but had no idea where.  Honestly, I hadn’t thought about the house in years, but suddenly, there it was right in front of me.

Travel Tuesday- Old St. David’s Episcopal Church

  This is Old St. David’s Episcopal Church in Cheraw, SC, circa 1770.  It was the last church built when the Anglican Church was considered the official church of the colony of South Carolina.  While regular services are no longer held in this building, visitors may obtain a key from the local chamber of commerce during business hours and tour the building.
I didn’t get to tour as my son and I were passing through town on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe next time as I’d love to see the interior.

Travel Tuesday

This is the first post in a weekly series.  I was going through pictures recently and realized just how many great places in the Carolinas I visited over the last few months.  While most of my pictures are from the iPhone, I thought they turned out well.  So, here goes……

On Labor Day, my family traveled to DuPont State Forest near Brevard, NC.  Living in SC’s Upstate means we are less than an hour from many great mountain attractions.  We like hiking and biking at DuPont, and I annoy my family by stopping often to take pictures.

I don’t know what kind of butterfly this is.

  Not the most spectacular falls in the forest, but nice nonetheless.
  A sign of early fall?  A result of the drought?  I’ve heard both explanations.

Two Old Postcards

When’s the last time anyone has sent you a post card?  I’m sure it’s been years since I’ve received one.  Now, we have social media where we can instantly share pictures of our vacations with nearly everyone we know.  Postcards may still be found in many tourist attraction gift shops, though I wonder how many are actually sold.

I’ve always been fascinated by postcards, and will still occasionally buy one.  Back in the day when people still wrote letters and postcards, I often mailed postcards home when I was traveling.  I never was much of a letter writer, but I would take the time to jot down a brief note on a postcard.

As I was going through my parents’ possessions, I found what I ‘m sure was every postcard I ever sent them.  Both my parents kept many letters and cards they’d received over the year, so I wasn’t really surprised.  Someday I’ll share a few of them here.

I also found some of the postcards I bought as I was reorganizing some of my own memorabilia during the summer.  Today, I’m posting two of my favorites.  

 I bought this one at Pawleys Island, SC about 20 years ago.  Pawleys is one of my favorite places, and this card depicts The Gray Man, a ghost that supposedly appears on the island when a hurricane is approaching.
  This is a postcard of Trinity Episcopal Church (now Trinity Cathedral) in Columbia.  I found it in an antique store in Landrum, SC some years ago.  The postmark on it is 1960.
I’ll be back later with more postcards to share.

Who Remembers This Day?

  This is part of the front page of my hometown newspaper, the day after the first humans stepped onto the moon.  This happened the summer before I started first grade, and I remember it well.  I was allowed to watch special news coverage on TV, some of which occurred after my bedtime.  My parents, normally sticklers for bedtimes, encouraged me to stay up and watch, as this was history in the making.
  I also found this notice in the newspaper.  Apparently, some of the banks in Columbia thought it was a big enough deal that they closed for a day.  Can’t say I remember anything about banks or other businesses closing, but this is an indicator of what a big deal the moon landing was.

I’m Back….With My Latest Find From the Archives

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here.  The end of school and the first few weeks of summer are always crazy busy at my house.  But now I’m back with lots to share from recent trips and my personal archives.  Today, I’m sharing something that will bring back some memories of school.
  Remember these?  They’re still being published, although they’re now a part of Schlastic (another longtime educational publishing house).  This particular issue came out when I was in second grade…..a long time ago.
I have no idea why this was saved, or who decided to save it (was either my mom or me).  As a kid I always liked money, especially the spending part, to the point that my parents thought they were raising a major spendthrift, no matter what they tried (this has since changed).  But, saving it could have been a random thing, too.  

My own kids were not exposed to Weekly Readers in school, though they bought many books from the company’s book club. In fact, they had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned Weekly Reader or Scholastic’s similar offering.  

I can’t say that Weekly Reader was a huge part  of my education.  But I do remember reading and discussing some interesting articles with my classmates.  Yet, it brings back fun memories from my childhood and I am glad this was saved, for whatever reason.

The Scents of Summer


Summer is almost here.  For me, it will be a time of slowing down, but not stopping completely (that’s impossible around here), and catching up on things that never get done during the school year.  Because so much of my life has always revolved around an academic year, instead of the calendar year, summer has been my  traditional restart, not January first.

Like many people, I associate certain smells with specific events and times.  I got a hint of summer’s upcoming arrival a couple of weeks ago, when the scent of honeysuckle drifted through the evening air as I was sitting on my deck.  The smell of honeysuckle has always been one of the first reminders that my life was about to shift into a much-welcomed slower gear.  I can remember smelling it on my elementary school playground and in my backyard when I was a little girl.

There are other summer scents for me as well.  This morning, as I attended the grand opening of a new bike/running/walking trail in my community, there was a distinct smell of sunscreen, another summer smell.  The smell of Coppertone evokes memories of thre brown bottles with yellow lids.  The tropical scented sunscreens remind me of sunbathing when I was a student at Clemson, many years ago (yes, I know about sun damage and skin cancer….I just didn’t heed the warnings back in the day.  Trust me, I heed them now).

Before the long weekend is over, I’ll probably go to the local pool with my kids, where I’ll smell sunscreen and chlorinated pool water. Chlorine is not a good smell, but it does, nonetheless, remind me of the season.  I’m less fond of the smell when I can’t get it out of our swim suits and beach towels.

In a few short weeks, I’ll smell healthier summer scents when I go to the beach.  The smell of the salt air is therapeutic.  I also like the marsh air, which isn’t a good smell to a lot of people, but I’m into the whole coastal ecosystem thing.   

I like the smells of fresh produce,  and the way those scents longer in the car even after I’ve taken the fruits or vegetables into the house.  We are fortunate to have several good farmer’s markets in our area, which supplement the very small garden I plant each year.  I’m also reminded of my childhood trips to the State Farmers Market, which meant an evening of shelling beans or shucking corn.

If we attend a fireworks display, or shoot some fireworks ourselves on the Fourth of July, there’s that burning smell that hangs in the air for a while after the last rounds have been shot.  For some reason, that smell reminds me that summer is passing quickly, and my slow season is limited. The midpoint of summer is here.

I’m glad it’s almost time for my slow season to begin.  Everyone at my house is tired and ready for a change of pace.  That change of pace is probably the reason summer scents stand out so much for me.