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.