Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Bomi’s Sewing Stuff

heirloomsewing1tinyMy Bomi, Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE, was a seamstress. Bomi is Luxembourgish for grandmother. Bomi was always working in her sewing room whenever we visited her. It was her livelihood. After the death of her husband of six years, she used the trade she learned to feed her daughter and herself.

heirloomsewing7tinyAfter her death I wanted to have some of the tools of her trade. I didn’t take any of her sewing machines as I already had her sister-in-law’s. I chose small things, her irons, scissors, thimbles, darning eggs.

heirloomsewing3tinyThe tiny iron in the middle of the above photo was the one my mother used to “iron” her doll’s clothes. When she was old enough to help in the sewing room she used it to iron open seams for her mother.

heirloomsewing4tinyHow many people still darn their socks today? Bomi had a darning egg with a teeny tiny crochet hook to pick up runs in stockings and knitted clothing. Do you remember when you used nail polish to stop a run? We used a bit of soft soap so that the run could be picked up and fixed.

heirloomsewing2tinyBomi could turn an old coat or dress into a new piece of clothing worthy enough to visit a queen. When the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg visited Queen Elizabeth in England she took along her attending physician Dr. Emile Gretsch. His daughter accompanied him and in preparation for the trip she brought clothes to Bomi to be turned into new outfits. When they were in London the doctor’s daughter sent Bomi a postcard telling her jokingly “haute couture Fournelle” was well received in London.

heirloomsewing5tinyheirloomsewing6tiny

Bomi was always prepared to fix a fallen hem or sew on a loose button with this cute leather sewing purse with embroidery scissors and a thimble.

I wish I had been able to keep many things from her large house, including her old front door, but we did not have the room for everything.

treePlease take a moment to visit Jessica’s blog Cutesy Crafts. She wrote Homemade Christmas Ornaments from Grandma’s Doilies, a post that fits right into our Heirlooms theme. I first discovered her blog and Family Tree Art Tutorial back in April 2013.

 © 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to more posts in the comments.

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Bomi’s Christmas Cactus

Heirloom1tinyI received this cactus from Bomi, my maternal grandmother, in 2002. She’d raised it from cuttings from one of her older plants. I suspect she had been doing this for years and may have gotten her original plant from her mother.

She told me to water it once a week by filling the saucer under the flower pot with “standing” water. As soon as she watered he plants she would fill the watering can and let it stand at least a day before using it. Once a month I was to add a few grains of engrais rose, a fertilizer for strong growth and abundant flowering, to the saucer. The pink colored grains would dissolve and feed the plant as it was watered. She didn’t tell me the secret to getting it to flower.

But as you can see by my photos I haven’t had any problems with it blooming.

Heirloom2tinySometime after Bomi died in 2005 the cactus began making one darker pink flower. Over the years one became two and two became three. I don’t have any idea why the plant is doing this or if it’s normal.

Heirloom3tinyMy mother also has one of Bomi’s cacti. She puts hers outside during the summer and  doesn’t worry about windy weather breaking off branches of the plant. She says this keeps it from getting too big.

We began doing the same with ours. One time it was blown over the side railing of the porch by high winds and a large piece was broken off. It looked a little lopsided so I stuck a few of the broken off pieces into the soil where the piece had broken off. Surprisingly they took and today the cactus is no longer lopsided. It has only been re-potted once since we’ve had it and pssst hasn’t had fertilizer in ages.

Heirloom4tinyAfter the success of my planting the cuttings next to the “mother” plant I tried planting six cuttings in a small flowerpot. The “cuttings” were branches that had been broken or knocked off. All six took and the new plant flowered about three years later.

We keep the old and new plants outside until just before the first frost. They do not fail to begin budding a week after being moved indoors. Although we call the older one Bomi’s Christmas Cactus it usually blooms first around Thanksgiving and twice more before the spring, reminding us of her.

 © 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

My Blogger_lu blogging friend Claudine shared her grandmother’s geraniums on her blog yesterday. The over 40 years old geraniums’ future are insured by her husband, also know as Monsieur Merlanne, who plants cuttings each August.

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to more posts in the comments.

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Cardinal Feeding Little Ones

After I graduated from high school in 1976 I went to live with my paternal grandmother, Myrtle Hazel ROOP, widow of Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY, while attending West Virginia Tech. My cousins called her Grandma Dempsey but, to me, she was just plain Grandma as my other grandmother was Bomi.

1959 025 2In her living room Grandma had an alcove with shelves on the right side of the closed off fireplace where she kept her knick-knacks, souvenirs, pictures, and books. I believe the recessed bookshelves hid the door to the adjacent bedroom but that is a story for a later post. The shelves can be seen in this photo of my parents and me when we were visiting my grandparents in 1959.

Getting back to the time I lived with my Grandma, when I left to go home she took this figurine of a cardinal feeding two little ones off a shelf in her alcove and gave it to me as a gift to remember her and West Virginia by.

007 HeirloomThe Northern Cardinal is the state bird of West Virginia. This is not a valuable piece. On the underside of the figurine is a little gold-colored sticker which reads “Original Artmark” and “Made in Taiwan.”

Grandma may have bought it at a local souvenir shop or received it as a gift. She did not say it had belonged to anyone else before it came into her possession. I would have remembered this as she also gave me two heirlooms which had belonged to her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, which I will share in future posts.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to more posts in the comments.

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Bomi’s Spéngelskrich Amulette

My grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE married Nicolas WILDINGER, a German whose family had been living in Luxembourg since the first World War, on the 26th of July 1935. A month later she made a declaration to preserve her Luxembourgish nationality. In May 1936 her only child was born. When her daughter was five years old Marcelle’s husband died of tuberculosis. She had at least one offer of marriage but remained a widow from 1941 until her death in 2005 at the age of 95 years, 7 months, 10 days.

Bomi, as her grandchildren called her, was a fearless female during World War II (1939-1945). On May 10th, 1940, the German Wehrmacht invaded Luxembourg. On the eve of this invasion the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and his government decided to go into exile. From abroad, they lead the resistance against the Nazi regime in Luxembourg. Grand Duchess Charlotte followed the government and eventually moved to London, the headquarters of the allies. Thanks to her, the resistance movement in Luxembourg developed strongly.

Bomi’s Spéngelskrich Amulette, a Family Heirloom

Amulette from WWII 1 front
Bomi’s Spéngelskrich or
“War of the Pins” amulette
(front view)
Amulette from WWII 2 back
Bomi’s Spéngelskrich or
“War of the Pins” amulette
(back view)

The people of Luxembourg had their own ways to resist the German occupation of their country during World War II. They used passive resistance. They refused to speak German and participated in the Spéngelskrich or the “War of the Pins.” The people wore badges, pinned to their coats or jackets, which bore patriotic emblems such as the Red Lion or the head of Grand Duchess Charlotte, cut from a coin. My Bomi, Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE, wore this amulette, a profile of the Grand Duchesse with the initial C for Charlotte, on a chain around her neck until her death in 2005. This family heirloom is now in the possession of my mother.

Resistance Amulette

This post was adapted from a previous post. After publishing it in March 2014 I learned Bomi owned several of these and gave one to her oldest great-granddaughter C. who did not know there was a story behind the amulette she owned until she read my post. This is one of the reasons this series of posts on family heirlooms is being written – to tell the stories surrounding the treasures.

amulette
Bomi’s Spéngelskrich or
“War of the Pins” amulette
owned by a great-granddaughter

 

Bomi told us several stories about her life during this time. Once on the evening of January 23rd all of the neighbors met in her house to celebrate the birthday of Grand Duchess Charlotte. The windows were covered so that no light could be seen from the street but the German patrol could hear the celebrating. They knocked on the door and asked what was going on. Bomi told them they were celebrating her birthday. It’s a good thing they didn’t check her identification as her birthday was June 17th. She asked the Germans to join them in a glass of wine. She would laugh when she told us how the Germans raised their glasses to the birthday girl, not knowing that they were toasting the Grand Duchess.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to posts in the comments.

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: My Dad’s Photography

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Doesn’t everyone have family heirlooms? Furniture, jewelry, clothes, painting, letters or postcards, books, recipes, collections (tools, cameras, cooking utensils) or other keepsakes? Do you have an inventory of your heirlooms? I don’t and I plan on fixing that. I want to photograph my keepsakes to share them on a weekly basis with short descriptions and why they are important to me.

What better day to start a new series of posts than on my Dad’s birthday and featuring one of the heirlooms he left for all of his family to treasure! My being a Tuesday’s child was a second thought….

My Dad, Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY, would have turned 80 years old today. Sadly he left us at the young age of only 38 years, over 41 years ago.

Dad enjoyed trying out new crafts and left several “masterpieces” with the greatest being his photography. From 1957 until his death in 1974 he took pictures of the family at Christmas, birthdays, special occasions, daily life, on trips. While looking at them for this post I realized he was telling the story of our family in pictures.

He was a mechanic and crew chief fascinated with planes and loved to photograph airshows, planes on the flightline, and his colleagues at work.

He also experimented with taking nature photos. He didn’t live long enough to know one day there would be digital photography. He had to be set up his camera for the perfect, or not so perfect, picture. The subjects of the photos were chosen carefully as the film for slides was not cheap for a GI with five children and a wife.

These are some of my favorite non-family pictures he took in 1963-1967.

1963-11-06 Beaufort

1964-05-19 Aulnois

1964-05-20 Aulnois

1964-06-125 Aulnois

1964-08-03 Aulnois

1965-09-021 Aulnois

1967-10-010 Airplanes02

1965-11-022 AirplanesHappy Birthday Dad. We love and miss you. Thank you for the memories.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey