In which the 19th century collides with the 21st

I just googled the word “thimble” and the top search result is a web app called Mozilla Thimble, which allows a person to easily create a website… I’m sure it’s wonderful but the thimbles *I* remember are little metal cup-shaped doo-hickeys that fit over the tip of your finger and help you push sewing needles through fabric without making your fingertip look like it has been through a meat grinder. Like the ones in the pic except a wee bit less fancy.

I learned how to sew at a very early age and I am actually fairly proficient at it when I bother to put my mind to it. I even like it sometimes but these days I am focused on other things. I believe that The Commander tried to teach me how to use a thimble but I never quite got the hang of it and have always preferred to make my fingertip look like it has been through a meat grinder.

For whatever reason, I think that the last few years of her life, The Comm was worried that I would just dump all of the stuff in her house without looking at it. In a lot of ways she knew me pretty well but she obviously had no understanding of my affinity for mucking around with data bases. I tried to reassure her but… Well. I mean, there are some things we have gotten rid of without much remorse. A cheap “computer desk”. The 1980s-era electronic keyboard. My iPhone probably has a better one. The exercise bike! Seems like those things are fixtures in the homes of that whole generation! Heck, if I want to ride a bike, I will pay someone to fix up my old bike and I will ride it *outside* (hmmm)! Until then, I will continue to hoof it. Outside, thank you very much.

But her papers and her jewelry and her dishes and books and fiber arts stuff? S-l-o-w as she goes. I am well aware that there are important family documents around so I am sifting through paperwork literally one piece of paper at a time. Jewelry? Same thing. (None of the jewelry I am dealing with is worth *anything*. The few pieces that have any value are in the safe deposit box.) Anyway, I have been sifting through the costume jewelry all week. Some of it I remember, some I don’t. Some of it she actually documented with post-it notes. I’m photographing those along with the pieces they describe.

And then there are little surprises, like when I opened this little box (that was in a jewelry box) and found these thimbles inside. Given that The Comm labeled the box “Lathers”, I can only guess that they are from the 1800s. Her mother (my grandmother) was a Lathers before she married a MacMullan and The Comm was either given these or managed to snag them somehow (knowing The Comm, I suspect the second but who knows). I don’t think they are worth a whole lot. I almost think the *box* is worth as much as the thimbles. But who knows.

I never knew my grandmother Emily Lathers MacMullan. She was killed in a car accident (hit by a drunk driver) when The Comm was 15. That would be around 1936. By the time I came into the world in 1954, Bolette was my grandmother and she did a darn good job of grand-parenting for a woman who never had any children. But I wonder about Emily maybe now more than ever. I mean, it actually feels kind of funny to call her my grandmother. I guess that’s because I didn’t know her.

In the last weeks of The Commander’s life, when we knew that it was unlikely that she would recover, in the existential fog that surrounded us both amidst the constant sound of the oxygen machine, I admit that I frequently wondered if those folks over on the other side were watching me and I wondered whether they approved of me or not. And I wondered about Emily Lathers who landed over there way too young, before all of her children were grown up. The woman who gave birth to my mother back in 1921, when she was young and vibrant and happily running a household that included a husband and five children and at least one set of grandparents. A woman who I’m sure lovingly cared for her baby girl Frances (third child). Was she watching me? What did she think of me? Was I taking care of her baby all right? The answer to that isn’t simple. I tried to do my best but, well, that’s as far as I’m gonna go with that.

Hello? I started this blahg entry with the thimble pic and I was really just marveling at finding these interesting thimbles, which I am sure are not terribly valuable but they are certainly not going to get unceremoniously dumped either. Although I am a reasonably decent seamstress, the MacBook Pro in the background turned out to be more a tool of *my* trade (whatever my trade is) than a thimble so I thought that the photo was kind of cool.

Sorry, I didn’t exactly mean to head over into emo-ville but I am back now, so…


Okay. I am sitting in the Landfill backyard listening to all kinds of wildlife, mostly birds but also children. Watching bird mamas feed their babies in our birdhouses, bird fights, and rabbits. Where did all the blasted rabbits come from? (Yeah, I know where they came from <grin>.)

7 Responses to “In which the 19th century collides with the 21st”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I love emo-ville! I’ve been living there for quite some time. 🙂 Old relatives and their stories fascinate me too. I wish Ashley had managed to get my MIL to write down all of hers.

  2. Paulette Says:

    Love these treasures and the stories that accompany them. I thought those were unusual thimbles. After a search of Knut Jacobsen….

  3. Paulette Says:

    Silver marks

  4. Jan Miller Says:

    Paulette that is absolutely wonderful to have found info about the thimbles!!

  5. Tonya Watkins Says:

    Those thimbles look very pretty — are they etched? For the very short period of time I attempted sewing, I never felt comfortable using a thimble, either. (Nor any of the other tools of the trade when I think about it). But I’ve always liked thimbles (and buttons!) I suppose because they are little. I used to have a temptation to collect such things, but I’m so very glad I didn’t follow through with that.

  6. Sam Says:

    I finally learned to use a thimble, but found it awkward for quite a while—the fit made a major difference…. Interesting info from Paulette…I only had the dime-store version, adequate, stainless (or maybe not? durable, anyway), and not a bit fancy.

  7. Kathy Farnell Says:

    I think the thimbles are very pretty. I like the vine design. You should keep them – I’m sure you will.
    I think it is nice that you have a middle name of Emily. Your grandmother would have loved that.