When I added this heirloom to my list I wasn’t sure it still existed. During my childhood my Dad was in the Air Force and we had to move more than a half a dozen times. Things were lost along the way.
While talking to her on the phone I asked my Mom if she had “the tablecloth.” Less than a half hour later she called me back to say she’d found it. She was disappointed to find a few spots that looked like coffee stains on it. Before she dropped it off she washed and ironed it. Not all the spots came out but were a lot lighter than before she washed it.
If we get a bit of sun before I return it to her I’ll try sprinkling salt and squeezing lemon juice on the stains and placing the tablecloth on the grass and letting the sun “bleach out” the stains. Even if the trick doesn’t work, the tablecloth is a beautiful and unique treasure.
Before my mother married my father she worked for an American family in Luxembourg and even went with them to England when they were transferred. While living with them she saw a similar tablecloth owned by the family with signatures of the guests who visited their home.
When my parents married in 1957 Mom laid out a white tablecloth for their wedding guests to sign with the date and where they were from. The bride’s mother Marcelle; grandfather Joseph; paternal aunt Marie; paternal uncle Jean Pierre; maternal aunt Lucie; cousin Yvonne, her husband François and his mother; Yvonne’s two children; and the bride and groom’s witnesses signed the tablecloth on their wedding day. The guests came from Echternach and Schifflange in Luxembourg, from Strasbourg and Ittersviller in France, and from Bitburg in Germany.
These are the signatures of the twelve guests. After the wedding Mom embroidered all the signatures.
Five months later Dad was transferred back to the States and Mom got to meet Dad’s family in West Virginia for the first time.
Out came the tablecloth for everyone to sign. Dad’s mother Myrtle and father Fred; two of his three sisters; his brothers; a sister-in-law; three nieces; a paternal uncle, his wife, their son and daughter-in-law; and cousin Eugene.It is interesting to see the date format used by the European signers (D-M-Y) and the America signers (M-D-Y). A few more signatures of very close friends were added through the years.
In 1962 Dad got orders for France. We visited the family in West Virginia before crossing the ocean. There was a new family member, my oldest cousin’s husband, and out came the tablecloth for his signature. My cousin had signed it in 1957 and added her new “alias” under her first signature.
And little Cathy, nearly 5 years old, took advantage of day and signed her name.
© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey