Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Silver and the Story It Holds

As we start wrapping up Mama's estate, I took a hard look at the box of silver in my office. We needed to figure out just how much it was worth, not that we plan to ever sell it, but just to get an idea for purposes of equality. I  took each piece, tried to identify it and see what the same piece in comparable condition was worth. A lot of it has a story to tell and we wish each piece could tell those stories.

For instance for Mama and Daddy's 25th wedding anniversary, Daddy wanted to throw a party - no surprise there. I posted about this earlier. Any who, my brother and I presented them a lovely silver tray with the appropriate engraved words and our names on it. (To this day I only remember us giving them the tray at the party but don't have a clue where it came from or how we bought it. But then there was a lot about that night I do not remember.)

One of the silver trays I came upon in the box, was that round tray with the unoriginal adage engraved on the back with our names and the date. And, it was in very good shape. I looked at the pattern on the edge and the markings on the bottom, measured the size, and looked it up. What I learned was shocking. In today's dollars (given the tray was given 33 years ago) it was worth an incredible $19.98. Obviously, it was silver plate. I do not want to know what it retailed for in 1980.

When we said it was a "token" of our love but we never would be able to truly show how much they meant to us, yada yada yada, I hope they took that last part seriously. In our world, such a gift for that occasion was an embarrassment. As, in something akin to what one would pick up in the bargain bin at Macy's - you know where you get those wedding gifts for people who require a gift but you really do not care for. But, I digress.

Like the "special" tray her children so lovingly gave her in honor of her 25th Wedding Anniversary, many of the trays were not sterling silver. However, most of the others pieces were. But, then if every tray she had was sterling silver, I could retire early.

There was the search for the sugar bowl for Granny's silver service. Not the entire service, just the sugar bowl. Granny (our paternal grandmother) left the service to my brother, who had the coffee pot, tea pitcher, and creamer. My brother had told me he was missing a piece. And, there was no doubt where it was. Mama somehow managed to keep the sugar bowl - and, by no accident or mistake.

When Daddy was a little boy, in retaliation for being denied something he desired, he took an ice pick and jigged a hole in the top of the sugar bowl of my Granny's prized silver service. It was taken to a sliver smith for repairs but it was never the same. The scar of that tragic attack always remained. Mama thought the story legendary and embellished it a great deal. Oh, there were several versions. (At least she didn't claim it fell off the back of Sherman's wagon as they left the old home place after pillaging everything or survived the war by being buried  in the garden. Or, not that I know of.)

Of course there were two or three long rice spoons. One was a family piece and the other was the one we used every day at supper. Unlike folks in other parts of the country, we had rice at every evening meal. Even when the meals were semi-cooked or the beef was burned to smithereens.

A small 6 inch round plate was engraved "1958 Medical Ball". This was presented to Mama and Daddy while he was in Pharmacy School in Charleston at the Medical College. According to Daddy, it was a nice piece given to each couple attending the annual Ball. Mama's story was the Dean of the College personally presented it to Daddy for being such an exemplary student. She did stop short of saying he was crowned "King of the Ball".

There were the eight sterling silver water goblets, Daddy gave Mama for wedding anniversaries, each with a sweet line engraved on the bottom. Such irony when the marriage ended in a bitter divorce and Mama fought tooth and nail for the silver and Daddy fought back simply for the game of it.

And, the stories go on. Oh, if the pieces could talk, the tales they could tell. For now, they are safely ensconced in a safe deposit box until we figure out who gets what piece and the legend that goes with it.

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