The Crown Jewels

Sandy Hook, NJ

No, I’m not posting about the beach today, but I was there yesterday, so I thought I’d look at this photo while I wrote.  Crazy wild waves that this photo doesn’t capture, but beautiful.

On to the subject at hand. As mentioned, I spent several days of the past week sorting and packing my mother’s apartment.  Still a long way to go, but that is to be expected. What I didn’t expect was one spot where I was caught in memories, and was unable to pack away one thing.

When I was a girl, I loved to play with the contents of my mother’s jewelry box. There in my mother’s closet, was the ornately sculpted-to-look-like-a-miniature-armoire box, in all its pressboard glory.  Over the years, the subject of playing with our mothers’ jewelry has come up with various female friends. Maybe it’s a girl thing, maybe it’s a Brooklyn thing–though Flower Child enjoys the same.

carved jewelry box

carved jewelry box (Photo credit: Serenae)

There is and never was anything of value in that box, different colored beaded necklaces and bracelets, clip on paste rhinestone earrings (why? her ears were pierced), an old skate key (whose?). And pins, lots of pins.  For the younger generation who might be reading, women used to regularly wear pins (brooches) on their blouses and sweaters.


beads (Photo credit: moirabot)

I would ask, is this real? is this one real? My mother’s answer was always yes, though these things are all inexpensive costume pieces.

Really, my mother was not a woman who was “into” jewelry, costume or otherwise.  She had a few things she liked and wore regularly, but she didn’t hesitate to leave those pins tucked away, much like girdles, as soon as they were out of fashion. What she loved throughout her life was her collection of Lenox. Accumulated over  years, she’s got enough of those ivory colored pieces to fill two aisles in a Hallmark store.

Memories that I didn’t know I had zipped to the surface as I handled each pin.  The oddly shaped gold pin with a cluster of “pearls,” firmly attached to a black nylon blouse. A beautiful silver oval with blue, green, and black stones, stabbed through a gray sweater. An elaborately wrought gold flower in a nest of something I still can’t identify, dragging the collar of my grandmother’s green wool coat.

I went through the box on Sunday afternoon, put everything back and closed it. Sunday night after dogwalking I went back to do some more packing with Husband.  When we finished the kitchen, I went back to the jewelry box, and showed the pieces to him.  Again, I put everything away as it had been, and tucked it back into the corner of the closet.

I’m not sure why I couldn’t pack it up, why this sliver of her life has me stuck, in a way her treasured collection of Lenox knick knacks doesn’t.


Brooch (Photo credit: hannah karina)



  1. it’s interesting the kinds of things that evoke memories of the past. Photos of my grandfather don’t do it- I’m grinning beside him but don’t remember them being taken. Yet those candied raspberries will do it and every once in a while I’ll catch a whiff in the basement faintly of honey and I’ll hear the drum thumping and taste that honeycomb, still warm from the sun.

    Can you keep the box? It strikes me as something Flower would enjoy… A positive thing to carry down. Not everything is meant to be packed away. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Harriett. ❤ The brain, and its triggers and connections, are always fascinating, and unique for many. 🙂

      Yes, I think I'll be able to keep the box (and contents). We are so tight on space, I want to think very carefully before deciding on anything.


      1. I have the same memories of my grandmother’s jewelry box, and I think it would be wonderful to be able to pass down the love of ‘digging for treasure’ to Flower Child.

        Believe it or not, lots of that costume jewelry from the 40s and 50s is quite valuable. It would be a shame to just box it up, or throw it out.


        1. Thanks K,

          the more I think about it, the more I think I’ll keep it. I used to dig in my grandmother’s jewelry box too, and wish someone had saved the wonderful old perfume bottles she had.


  2. WTH was my “heating and oil” thing…I meant the combined smell of heating oil, Folger’s, and Palmolive. Smells like my grandmother’s house and I loved it. Thankfully, nobody I’ve ever known drank Sanka.


    1. LOL, a nice clear image. My grandmother drank Sanka, my mother drank instant Nescafe. She would add as many spoonfuls into my milk as I could convince her to share. I’m thankful my days of instant coffee are long gone.


      1. My grandma drank Postum! What on earth IS that, anyway? I remember the green jar of Sanka in the cabinet too. No caffeine to be found there! There was always hot cocoa, though, and she’d heat up a pan of milk on the stove to mix it up in.


        1. Can’t really tell you what Postum is, but I can tell you it was not so fondly referred to by a friend of mine as Poison 😉 As in, oh no, Grandma’s serving us the poison again! We could probably dedicate an entire blog to the foods of our collective Grandmas.


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