Cedar trinket box: How Betty got her [name] groove

How did Betty get on this box?

We lived in Newcastle from the time I was 3 until I was 7. I was probably around 5 or 6 when my Grandma took me into the Variety store, and “found” this box with my mother’s name carved in it. At the time, I thought it was just amazing that she had “found” it and was buying it for Mother. The miracles of concrete thinking, right? I do not remember why this was a gift, nor what Mother thought about it, but it always sat on her dresser. The last place it resided was on that same dresser that she and Daddy started housekeeping with, which had been moved to the “guest room” (Sis and my old bedroom) because it was a double bed.

I was an adult before I realized that someone in the store had carved her name on the lid of the box. It is not very well done, and not centered. Only yesterday as I thought I had finally packed up the last of the family heirlooms for my upcoming trip to visit Sis and the nieces did I suddenly remember the trinket box. On an emotional whim, I brought it home with me the summer Sis and I cleaned out their house.

The variety store carried a few clothing items for men, women, and children, and household goods along with the typical items in a variety store. The only thing I could find in the archives was that W & W Variety operated in Newcastle as the only variety store, and closed sometime in the mid-1970s. The variety store of my childhood was in the last block before the turn toward Olney, and sat in a row of buildings that housed the doctor’s office, the newspaper, a grocery store, and a bank, along with some other stores that I cannot recall their function. The ads below are from the Newcastle Register, 1963 & 1966.

The trinket box is from J. B. Deere Cedarcraft of Lake Ozark, Missouri. They had been in business since the mid-1940s in the tourist trade (1944-1977), and made a wide variety of cedar souvenirs, hiring sales representatives to market them to variety stories and souvenir shops. I found several examples of this box on ebay and Etsy. This trinket box was identified as made in the 1950s which would coincide with the dates we lived in Newcastle.

This family heirloom has a double nostalgia: not only was it my mother’s, I was with Grandma when she picked it up for mother. It is another of those stories that I never really thought about, and now wish I could ask: Who put the name Betty on the box, and what was the occasion Grandma bought it for Mother? Since I cannot, I will have to ensure the story that I know is written so I can pass it on to whomever chooses to read it.

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15 Responses to Cedar trinket box: How Betty got her [name] groove

  1. Lovely story of a little family mystery!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Betty says:

    Nice box! Now, I think if my middle name “Rose” were engraved just right, the engraving could be centered. πŸ™‚ Do you remember what your mother kept in the box? And interesting, the cedar box was from Missouri. Also, is there any significance to the “Tabby Cat” on the quilt square in the background? I guess the mystery of the engraving shall remain forever so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      Well, Betty Rose, Betty Jo would likely say ‘here ya go.’ πŸ™‚

      I think she kept jewelry in it some, and in later years after it moved to the front room with the furniture, probably just pins or buttons. I thought I would see if Sis remembered. The quilt is one Grandma made for J when he was born. She (like everyone else) was sure he would be a girl, so the first one she made for his birth was pink with lace. (I wrapped him in it anyway.) After he was born, she made this one. Grandma painted the pictures on the quilt with typical rural things: barn, gate, tractor, pony, etc. She made a similar one for me and my sister only with little girl things (we always shared a room until she left for college) and my sister has it. It was the coverlet on our bed for many years. I might need to do a vintage baby quilt post soon–this reminded me when I have been packing this past week. I have the quilts or blankets made for J by my mother, both my grandmothers, and both of Randy’s grandmothers.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Betty says:

    What wonderful keepsakes!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth says:

    Yes, the story and the box must stay together. I remember similar wood boxes in the stores in Eupora while spending summers there. They really are pretty little keepsakes, wish yours could talk and tell you the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Cedar trinket box: How Betty got her [name] groove β€” Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles | Ups Downs Family History

  6. Beth Barton says:

    I’m amazed that you were able to find the history that you did! I never can figure out anything about antiques. I don’t even know where to start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      Newspaper archives help a lot. Try the Chronicling America at loc.gov for free. And sometimes, just trying different descriptive terms in a search, but you might have to look at a lot of unrelated photos. If you get really stuck, let me know and I will see if I can help.

      Liked by 1 person

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