But here I am today, ready to share with you a few little things that I am very fond of and have accumulated over the years.
This ewer came to us as a wedding gift from my Uncle Bill, who if you have followed my blog you will know was really not my uncle but my father's best friend. Uncle Bill, my dad and my mom knew each other from their younger years in Colorado Springs, where the Van Briggle Art Pottery company has been in business since 1901. Artus Van Briggle was with Rookwood Pottery company first, and he and his new wife settled in Colorado Springs and set up shop there. I grew up knowing about the pottery from stories my folks told. Their earlier pieces fetch high prices now; this is not an early piece and is not really a collectible, but for me it has a special connection to my own family, and I treasure it.
Relationships in the mideast were already rather "iffy" and when we had an overnight stay in Amman, Jordan to see Petra and in preparation for moving on into Israel, it was suggested by our tour guide that we not wander the streets but rather hit the sack early to catch up on some sleep. Jer and I were the youngest folks on the tour; most of them were almost elderly and they RAN for their beds. Jerry and I went down to the bar and spent the evening talking to two bartenders, Egyptians working in Amman, about the middle east and all the problems, and about how amazing we found Egypt to be.
At the time Jerry was sporting a beard, a rather scraggly one but which I just loved on him, and these bartenders kept asking him if he didn't have some arabs in his background. At a certain point Jerry went up to our room to phone his office (night in Jordan was mid-day in California) and when he left I quietly told the fellows that he was not arabic but Jewish. They apologized all over the place, thinking they had been "rude" to us. Before the end of the evening came, we purchased this little 2" high bottle of Dimple Scotch and both fellows signed their names on the label, which you will note is arabic.
We have never opened it; it has been in our curio cabinet since June of 1980. What is missing has simply evaporated over the years, though there have been times I've been tempted to help it out. The names have faded away. Within a year of being in Jordan, Sadat was assassinated, and I wrote a letter of condolence to those two fellows who were still at work in Jordan. That was the last contact with them. But the little Pinch bottle always reminds us that good people can be found anywhere.
In case you don't recognize him, this is NIPPER, the RCA dog that is usually pictured sitting at a Victrola. Toward the end of 1985 and through part of 1986 I worked fairly steadily on a temporary secretarial assignment in Tustin, California at a small district sales office of RCA. I normally didn't take on long-term jobs, but this one was so close to home and had such a nice assortment of people there - probably 8 or so - that I just felt really at home. I quickly became one of the gang. This office was being closed and the employees integrated into other RCA locations, so they also were clearing out stuff that had been stuck in closets and forgotten about.
One day toward the end of my time there, Bill, the director of that little office, came to my desk with Nipper in his arms. "Here, Bobby, is something for you to remember us by. It's your very own Nipper."
And I have always remembered them, because Nipper also sits in my curio cabinet watching what I do. I remember being at RCA when the Challenger exploded; I was on the phone with a vendor and I heard her scream, because they had a TV going in their office to watch the takeoff. I had to tell our office what had happened. Seeing Nipper reminds me of that sad time, but also the good times with my pals there at the little RCA office.
Jerry has a cousin, Barrie, who lives in Southgate - on the north edge of London. Barrie's mother was a first cousin of Jerry's mother. How this came to be is that Jerry's grandpa, Israel Mark, had an identical twin brother named Eli Mark. In 1906 Israel, his wife Kate and their children (including Jerry's mother) emigrated to the United States. Eli, his wife Dora and their children stayed in England. In the ensuing years, all contact was lost between the two families. And when I started researching the family history in 1984, I determined to find the Mark family in England and reconnect!
In 1988 we finally did. Eli had a daughter Jean, and Jean had a son named Barrie. We found Barrie, his wife Lea, and their children Lisa and Robin and since that time we have become far closer than kissing cousins. It was obvious from the time we met them in 1988 that we were related. Jean looked exactly like Jerry's mom for starters! And initially we weren't sure whether we were going to meet up with the "English Reserve" or the Jewish "Mishpocha." As the train pulled in Victoria Stations, we identified Barrie from the picture he had earlier sent to us, and believe me, it was "Mishpocha" all the way. We have been friends and relatives since then.
Lea had the adorable egg-holder sitting in her kitchen. I couldn't keep my eyes off it. I wondered if I might find one just like it to take home with me when we returned to the US after our first trip. Lea removed it from her counter, put it in my hand, and with a big grin on her face said, "It's yours, Cousin Bobby!" I have used it every day since then. Those monks have aged plenty since I got it, and I still love them just as much as I did then. Such lucky people we are to have found our dear cousins.
And last of all, a batch of glass beads blown by beadmakers in Turkey. These are not the beads of artists. I first saw the beads used on the part of a horse harness that fits over the head. Somewhere in my Turkish trivia I have a picture of a harness, but that particular one had plastic beads for decorations. But the glass beads are more traditional and of course make much more of an impression -- perhaps not on the horse but certainly on the observer. I was fascinated by the decorative "eye" of the turkish people. And I simply fell in love with these beads. I bought a book (long gone) that talked about how these beads are made, with the "ovens" that heat the glass in the center of the floor, and the rods on which the beads are formed leaving soot marks in the big holes. I brought dozens of them home with me and have given some to a school librarian who was creating a display on Turkey for her school.
Periodically I take the bowl of beads out of the curio cabinet and run them though my hands. I love their feel. I love their designs. And I think of those men in Turkey who still do such rudimentary things and decorate the harnesses of horses with such things. I loved those two years in Turkey -- and wish I'd had more time there.
So now you see some of my little "things." I don't save much unless it has a special meaning for me. No, I am not a hoarder nor even suffer from OCD. But I sure love my "things" and hope you understand.