Friday, March 04, 2016

The Legacy of a Pair of Scissors





Recently, while traveling from place to place for three months, I misplaced these scissors.  I've never taken them with me before and have no idea what caused me to take them this time.

When I could not find them amongst stuff that was left at my son's house or what had traveled with me and been stored in the back of the car until I could get back in my house, I panicked.

To the naked eye they don't look like much - a pair of scissors?  Ah, but these scissors are more then special, they are a link to the past, namely my Grandmother Markley.  These scissors belonged to her.

She died in the mid 50's when I was a preteen or had just become a teen.  She lived with us for many years.
Her story is quite fascinating and these scissors played a big part in her life.

Nana Markley was born in Joplin, Mo. but migrated to Colorado, Durango to be specific where my mother was born.  There are many Markley's in Colorado which surprised me when I visited there totally not knowing anything about the extended family.  But, that is another story.

My grandmother married a Markley and had two daughters.  The marriage did not last and they divorced.
Can you imagine back in the 1920's being a divorced woman trying to raise two daughters?  She relocated to Chicago and became a pattern designer for a company called Blums/Vogue which later became Vogue Patterns.  Her daughters, my mother and aunt,  went to boarding school and she lived in a teeny tiny room in a boarding house that I will never forget.  I think I was younger then 10 when I saw that room.  It is permanently embedded in my mind's eye.

She sewed all the time.  The most beautiful tiny, meticulous hand stitching in all the clothes she made for me and my Toni doll.  With bits of fur or glitz, she took me on journeys of mystery and elegance with the wardrobes that she made for that doll.

A quiet woman, until you sat and watched her sew.  Then she opened up with magnificent stories about life on the Frontiers of Colorado and New Mexico plus stories of her designing days with Vogue.

When we left Chicago and moved to Shreveport, she came to live with us.  My dad remodeled our house to create a private living space for her in what had been an attached garage.  She always had her treadle Singer Sewing machine along with bits and pieces of exquisite fabrics.    Along with that, it seemed these little scissors were always nearby.

How I got them, I have no idea.  Truly, none.  But I treasure them.  Their value to me is not in the actual scissors but what they remind me of and that sweet woman who always looked old to me, even when she wasn't.

They are a legacy of what persistence and hard work can do for one person with only a pair of scissors.

17 comments:

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

A legacy indeed! I hope you found them...

gringosuelto said...

I immediately thought they were a beautiful pair of scissors, with the kind of lovely attention to form and decoration that is so sadly lacking in products of today. And now that I know that they belonged to a special grandmother, they are even more remarkable.

I sure hope you find them.

Saludos y suerte,

Kim G
CDMX, México
Where a pair of scissors would be quite handy.

Babs said...

Yes, Peter and Kim, I did find them and took that photograph of them, immediately.

They are now back in their safe and secure place where I have no intention of moving them, except when I use them.

Barbara Lane said...

Oh Barbara - this is a wonderful story. I know precisely what you mean in regards to their meaning to you. If you've not found them yet ask St. Anthony to help locate them and thank him in advance. And thank you for sharing the story of your beloved grandmother.

Babs said...

Yes, Barbara, I did find them and all is well. Thanks for your concern.

norm said...

I have an old pair of scissors from my Grandmother, they are shaped like a crane, with the pivot being the eye, the blades the long bill, feathers engraved into the handles. . Old they are, work fine they do and as with your's , going nowhere if I can help it.

My niece got Grandma's sewing kit and puts it to good use, what with 4 little ones to fix and mend for.

Babs said...

Oh Norm, how wonderful! And that your niece has your Grandma's sewing kit. My grandmothers went to my Mom and then to me. I have since passed most of it on to my daughter except for my embroidery hoop and thread that I learned to embroider with my grandmother!

I've always been someone who sewed. Making all my children's clothes back when fabric was 3 yards for $1USD. So for a dollar, I could just about make three little outfits. I even made a suit for my husband - that was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never repeat! ha.

Your scissors Norm sound exquisite. Thanks for sharing.

Steve Cotton said...

I do not invest many memories into objects. After all, the memories are in my head, not the thing. (That may be why I am protestant, rather than catholic.) But I do keep a few memories pieces around. It may be that Whittaker Chambers quotation that keeps echoing in my head: "That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth."

Babs said...

Wow Steve, that is really deep for a simple pair of scissors. My other treasure is a seashell my daughter bought at a shell shop with the 10c I gave her to spend on herself when she was a child. Instead she bought me this shell that I treasure.....No one who comes in this house would ever notice these two objects with no intrinsic value to anyone but me..........Seeing these objects brings back the memories.

crynoutloud said...

I had my mother in laws scissors in my desk for a very long time. Old scissors, too fine for my fat fingers but cut really good. A couple weeks ago my wife spotted me using them and dramatically confiscated them, banning me from ever using them again. I think they were her Grandma's too.
Isn't this an O'Henry short story? There is a lot of spirit in those pass me down scissors. Maybe because they were in the persons hands so much.

Babs said...

Great thought Crynoutloud. It's interesting the things we treasure and the things we give no thought too. If I had not thought, erroneously, that I had lost them, they probably would not have had enough significance to write about them. Glad I did.

postcardsfromsanantonio said...

Spent so many hours sitting beside my grandmother making doll pillows from silken scraps found in her cedar chest and "art" from the amazing contents of her tin of magical looking buttons. I specifically requested Nana's scissors after her death, but the tin disappeared. I long to rummage through those antique buttons....

Retired Teacher said...

What a lovely story, and I am so glad that you found the scissors. The memories that they represent are priceless.

Babs said...

San Antonio, I had forgotten about the buttons. Oh my, what treasures there were. Maybe that is why buttons have always been so special to me my whole life......

I'm so glad that I wrote this post because of all the great stories people such as yourself have shared......Thanks.

Caddie said...

Truly enjoyed reading this, Babs. I have my grandmothers wooden needle case, which may have belonged to her mother. Our memories sustain us. Hmm, where did you finally locate the scissors after your trip?

Babs said...

Caddie, I found them in the bottom of my makeup bag, but they were embedded in the lining and so only the rounded part was visible. What a relief!

It's been so interesting to hear of all the treasures people still have as it relates to sewing. Your grandmother's wooden needle case sound very interesting.

Thanks for sharing!

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