Friday, March 25, 2011

The Play Purse

Growing up pre-television era meant we had to come up with our own entertainment. We played house, dress-up, office, tea party, cowboys and Indians, camping and with our dolls.
We had old clothes, hats and shoes for dress up. I also had an old white clutch purse of Mom's. In addition to play money and an almost used up compact and lipstick, I kept a ring in it which was too big to wear on any of my fingers.
Picking up after myself was not one of my good habits. I would leave my play purse laying around wherever I put it down. Mom threatened several times that if I didn't take care of it she was going to burn it.
One day I was looking for my purse and asked Mom if she had seen it. She said she had, that she had gotten tired of picking it up and had thrown it in the burning barrel. I asked her if she had taken my ring out of it, but she hadn't. I ran out to the barrel and found the remnants of the purse. Luckily, I found my ring.

This wasn't one of those ten cent rings from the five and dime. This was a ring my grandmother Bessie Lynam had given me. She said it was a friendship ring which had belonged to her grandmother, my Great-great Grandma Aggie.
It is hard to tell in the picture above, but the ring is encircled with twined hearts and some little flowers which look to me like lily of the valley. The band is 1/4" wide and I would guess a size 6. It doesn't have any markings, but looks like gold. After it was burned, it tarnished very easily so maybe it was gold plated?

Agnes Georgina Hull Richardson was born October 18, 1850 and died March 25, 1943 - sixty-eight years ago today. She was 92 1/2 years old.
This picture of Grandma Aggie with Dad (Louis), Grandma Bessie and baby Ron was taken October 11, 1940 - a week before her 90th birthday. It is unusual to have a five generation picture because so often the great-great grandparents are already dead. In this instance, it is the fourth generation missing because Flora, Bessie's mother and Aggie's daughter, died comparatively young (61).
I remember growing up hearing about how close Grandma Bessie was to her Grandma Agnes because her own mother (Flora) had died young. I know at that time I thought this meant really young and that Agnes had raised Bessie.

I don't know why Grandma Bessie gave me this ring instead of giving it to her daughter or a niece. Was it because I was the oldest granddaughter? She was the oldest granddaughter and the ring was given to her by her grandmother, so maybe Grandma Bessie was doing the same thing?

This ring is one of those family treasures I want to pass on. Should I carry on the tradition and give it to my oldest granddaughter? Or will I give it to my daughter because Lily of the Valley is her birth month flower? I just want the recipient to know the story of who it belonged to - and treasure it enough to keep it out of another trash fire.

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